Hampstead away - 18 Jan 2003
With both Purley and Hampstead unbeaten so far this season, and them due to meet in the Flags Final in a few weeks time, there was everything to play for in this game. At the start of the first quarter Purley went out to a 2-0 lead, only to be pegged back to 2-2. Twice more Purley took the lead, but each time Hampstead responded, and at quarter time it was 4-4. With both teams competing for everything, and pretty evenly matched, this game was looking like it would go to the wire. In the second quarter Purley stepped up a gear, but despite having the majority of possession, they could not make the pressure on the Hampstead goal count, and though they kept a clean sheet at their end, they could only manage to add one at the other, taking the half time score to 5-4.
Whatever Hampstead said in their half-time talk must have been something, as they completely dominated the third quarter. Making good use of the low winter sun, which was by now shining almost directly down the pitch into the Purley keepers eyes, they managed to tally 8 goals in the quarter, giving themselves a seemingly unassailable lead at 7-12. And for most of the final quarter it looked like they would run out comfortable winners, despite Purley now having the marked advantage of Hampstead's keeper now having the sun in his eyes.
With six minutes to go, and each side having adding a goal to their tally, Purley were still five goals behind. But Purley are made of stern stuff. Soon it was 5 minutes to go, but only 4 behind. Then Mark Dingfield got his shooting boots on, and with 3 goals in less than 3 minutes, there was only a single goal in it. And then with 2 minutes to go, the Hampstead keeper had a rush of blood to the head which resulted in an expulsion foul for him, so Hampstead had to put a defence man in goal, and play the remainder of the game man-down. Surely the Purple and Gold could at least tie the game. On the ensuing man-up the first shot went just wide of the pipe, the second just inches wide and above, but before they could have another they lost possession. As the Hampstead keeper cleared, a Purley player was called for interference and sent to the sin bin, so both teams were now a man down. After play restarted Purley pressured the ball, and managed to check the ball out of a Hampstead stick, but while both teams were scrambling for the ground ball the final whistle blew. Final score 12-13 to Hampstead.
So, Hampstead finally brought Purley's 4 year unbeaten League run to an end - the last defeat being at the hands of Kenton in December 1998. If this game is anything to go by, the Flags Final should be a cracker.