In a drenching rain at the Avenue Ground, Cricklewood-lane, on Saturday, Hampstead Town met Finchley F.C. for the first time since the war, and celebrated the occasion by winning with a margin of two clear goals, and incidently qualifying to meet Berkhamsted Town in the first qualifying round of the English [F.A.] Cup.
Despite wretched weather there was a goodly muster of umbrellas in the popular enclosure, the stand, of course, and every other available bit of cover, being packed to the utmost limit. Hampstead won the toss and Finchley kicked off against wind and rain on a sodden pitch which caused the players the greatest difficulty in finding a foothold. There was a thrill in the first minute, a shot from Brassey causing the home goalkeeper to roll on the ground with the ball, so close to the line that everybody held their breath until Goodwin recovered himself and managed to clear. Hampstead took up the attack for a while after this and they were nearly presented with a goal when Hutchings miskicked and sent the ball perilously near his own posts for a corner. Up and down play followed, the ball being quickly hustled from one end to the other, and this style of game continued up till about ten minutes from the interval, when Finchley, who had been confidently holding their own, appeared to slacken their pace. Making the most of their opponents' evident languor Hampstead attacked with great vigour and Catt was kept very busy dealing with shots from the inside forwards. For over five minutes the goalkeeper withstood a heavy bombardment, emerging triumphant out of the most dangerous of rushes and bringing off miraculous saves from all directions. At last, two minutes before the whistle blew for half-time, he was beaten, although he made a valiant attempt to stop the high drive with which Wise gave Hampstead the lead, and succeeded in partly arresting its flight, the ball being diverted on to one of the posts before entering the net.
In the second half Finchley were for the most part on the defensive, and it speaks well for the plucky resistance they put up that Hampstead were only able to score once more - as well as being a none too flattering example of the shooting powers of the home forwards. The second goal came about twenty-five minutes after the interval, Reinke scoring with a tame shot that Catt might easily have stopped had not the wet ground brought him to his knees. Finchley's few excursions to the other end were in the nature of spasmodic rushes, and never caused the home defence any anxiety. About a quarter of an hour from time Friday was carried off the field with a dislocated knee and shortly afterwards Brassey was injured in the same place, but he was able to resume. It was a welcome relief for both sides when the referee put the closure on a game which quite obviously belonged to Hampstead.
Criticism of the players would perhaps be unfair in view of the condition which prevailed. Suffice it to say that had Finchley's forwards been able to stand the racket so well as the defence, a different result might have been obtained, whereas regarding Hampstead, a little more discretion on the part of the forwards would probably have given them their biggest score of the season.