Belper take great credit in defeat

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Hampstead & Westminster 3

Belper Hockey Club Men’s 1sts 2

Belper followed Saturday’s trip to Manchester with a visit to London to play Premier League Hampstead & Westminster in the England Hockey Cup on Sunday.

Unfortunately, due to family commitments and one player being cup tied, Belper travelled with a bare XI for what would surely be a difficult fixture.

The pleasant sights and surrounds of Paddington Rec were not lost on the men from Derbyshire and a water problem before the start left some confusion prior to the warm-up.

Fortunately, the Belper side were able to settle and take to the pitch. Jacob Bullock gave a helping hand and was restored to the starting XI in place of the missing Mark Lamb in the heart of the back four.

Adam Innocent and Lingeswaren partnered Cassidy in the frontline with the midfield trio remaining the same as the previous day.

Belper rushed into a 1–0 lead thanks to a clinical finish from Ebbage in the fourth minute after a magnificent defence-splitting ball delivered at pace from Adam Innocent on the right wing after some exceptional skills eliminated a flat footed defence.

Unfortunately for Belper, Hampstead displayed the resilience that has served them very well over the years in the Premier League as they bounced back immediately, following a couple of slack turnovers in the Belper back four to take a 2–1 lead.

Belper could have been forgiven for caving in at this point but they should take great heart from the battling performance they gave to draw level through a fearsome Cassidy reverse stick strike just before the interval.

Despite only having 11 players and the opposition sporting a full complement of 16, it was the visiting side who were causing the most issues for their opponents.

Unfortunately for Belper, they were undone by a setpiece rebound. After a save from Slane, the ball fell to the Hampstead striker who rifled the ball home with 60 seconds left on the clock.

Belper still pressed straight from the pushback and generated a final chance but were unlucky to see the ball flash across the goal and miss three waiting sticks to take the game to extra time.

It was an unfortunate ending to the weekend for the Nailers and one they certainly did not deserve. The team that played on Sunday deserved great credit for the performances they gave and the tireless running they did for the cause.

Manager Lynne Morgan was understandably proud of her side’s efforts: “It was a great game to watch for the neutral with everything you would want a game to have. We were unlucky today but if we continue to play like this, we should be collecting plenty more points in the league as the season progresses.”

Belper would like to wish Hampstead the best of luck in the remaining rounds of the competition and look forward to a rematch in the not-too-distant future.