Hampstead created a surprise in amateur club circles on Saturday by scoring five goals to three on the ground of the Kingstonian club, and thus beating the only undefeated team in the Athenian League. Notwithstanding four successive wins to the credit of Hampstead, their play had not given entire satisfaction, and even the most optimistic of their supporters hardly expected a win against the champions, who had the previous week defeated Clapton in a Cup-tie. However, the Hampstead team, unchanged from the previous week, played splendidly to a man, and at the close well deserved the cheers from a crowd which could appreciate good football even though it came from a visiting side.
Much has been written in the London press about the injury to H.C. Mann, the Kingstonian centre-forward, in the second half, which necessitated his removal to outside-right, but it must not be forgotten that Wardlaw, the Hampstead left-half, received a bad injury to his ankle which compelled him to leave the field, and during his absence Kingstonian scored all their goals. Upon resuming Wardlaw took up Howell's position at outside-left, but playing was obviously painful to him. With characteristic pluck, however, he kept going, even though he could do little more than hobble, and he had his reward by sharing in the fourth goal. This was not the only disability under which Hampstead laboured. In the first half the arm of an opponent came into contact with Shearcroft's nose, to which plaster had been applied, and for a time the visitors lacked a forward. Later Parsons came into collision with Soper, both players falling heavily to the ground. The Kingstonian recovered quickly, indeed, with almost his first kick after the injury he scored a goal, but Parsons was longer in shaking off the effects.
By winning the toss - at which he is an adept - Wardlaw gave Hampstead the benefit of the wind in the first half, but the advantage was not completely on their side, much care being needed to prevent the ball travelling over the touch-line. At the beginning the defence of Kingstonian was not too sound, play being largely in Hampstead's favour, and although Macey tried hard, some of his footwork being delightful to watch, it was some time before Brown made acquaintance with the ball. When, however, the home forwards got going, they were dangerous and it was well that the visiting backs were sound in tackling and kicking. Evans forced the first corner, which Shearcroft headed by, and then a shot by Wise almost beat the home goalkeeper. Evans worked very hard in the centre but with advantage might have given the wing men more opportunities, Howell, in particular, having little to do. At the end of twenty-five minutes Hampstead scored their first goal through Evans, who, keeping the ball well under control, ran through the defence, and a few minutes later with Shearcroft off the field, he put Hampstead two up.
This position of affairs was by no means palatable to Kingstonian but, although they made several incursions, they found the task of facing the strong wind a great handicap, and Brown had a comparatively easy time. On the other hand, Hampstead were in exceptionally good form, and although the shooting was at times erratic, the forwards were on the mark better than in any previous match this season. From the extreme wing men good opportunities were offered, and Wise [only just] missed adding to the score. Pease tried several of his long shots, some of which gave anxiety to Harman who was troubled by having the sun in his eyes. From one of these a corner was forced, but Macey, who found it advisable not to push too far forward, cleared the lines. Just before half-time, following good work on the Kingston right wing, Houghton cleared with a beautiful kick almost on the goal-line. The interval came with the score 2-0 in the favour of Hampstead, and while that result was satisfactory, it was recognised that the issue was by no means safe.
Contrary to expectations, however, Hampstead did almost as well in the second half, when facing the wind, as they had done previously. Kingstonian were dangerous at the outset, but Clarke was playing better than in one or two other games this season and stopped some dangerous runs. He conceded corners when in difficulties, but the ball was not needlessly put outside. Then the visitors took up the offensive and after Evans had headed over from one of many good passes sent across by Howell, one of the Rassells narrowly missed putting the ball through his own goal. There was a foul given against Kingstonian when Evans was ploughing a lonely furrow towards goal, and from the free kick Pease shot into the goalkeeper's hands. The pivot, who was looking very carefully after Macey, then earned applause for his clever defensive work, and following a corner kick Shearcroft headed the ball into the net, this third goal being scored after the game had been in progress about five minutes from the restart.
After Evans had almost scored a fourth, Harman just beating him for possession of the ball, the character of the game underwent a complete transformation. With Wardlaw off the field, Wise dropped to half-back, the attack being thus weakened. Brown made one remarkably good save at the cost of a corner, but Mann scored from the corner kick, and in less than ten minutes Soper scored two other goals. The second of these came just after the collision with Parsons, already referred to, and the clever winger seemed quite amazed when he found that he had obtained the equaliser.
Naturally play then became exciting. Urged on by a crowd that had hitherto found little to satisfy the appetite, Kingstonian strained every nerve to take the lead, and for some time it seemed a ten-to-one chance that they would succeed. Hampstead, however, showed remarkable staying powers, and while luck was occasionally on their side, the quality of their work at this crucial stage must not be under-valued. Probably they would have been content had the whistle sounded for time, and the game been left with honours easy, but towards the end they realised that victory was not out of the question. Wise had again taken up his position in the forward line, Howell acting as a half-back, and this change worked well, Hampstead keeping the home defence well employed. In the last five minutes they met with their reward, Evans scoring two more goals, and bringing his aggregate to four. The first of these came after some beautiful footwork in which Wise played a conspicuous part, Wardlaw also deserving a meed of praise. The last goal followed one of Deeks' best efforts, his centre from the touch-line giving Evans a gilt-edged opportunity.
Hampstead have not picked up many points at Kingston in recent years, and their victory on this occasion came as a bitter pill to the followers of the home club. They were, however, ready to admit that victory had gone to the side that played the better football. It was recognised that the injury to Mann put the forward line out of gear, but this was more than counter-balanced by injuries on the other side. There was no position on the field where Hampstead were inferior. It was not often that the Rassells have five goals registered against them, and the score will give the Hampstead forwards the confidence which has hitherto been lacking.