Esser hits a hat-trick as Hampstead & Westminster Ladies secure fourth successive victory

Joyce Esser struck a hat-trick as Hampstead & Westminster Ladies secured their fourth victory in a row in the Women’s Conference East, beating Harleston Magpies 4-1 and leapfrogging their visitors into the top three places.

H&W found themselves behind after only one minute at Paddington Recreation Ground on Saturday but Esser levelled the scores and completed her treble before the hour-mark, while Helen Cathcart struck late on.

Hampstead lacked focus at the start and were punished as they went 1-0 down moments after the push-back, but they heeded the wake-up call and went on to dominate.

The home side were still in arrears as half-time approached, with just nine players on the pitch after being shown a couple of cards in quick succession.

But, as Harleston tried to push home their advantage and extend their lead, Esser intercepted a wayward pass and dribbled through the heart of the defence before neatly lifting the ball past the goalkeeper to square the scores at the break.

Growing in stature, Hampstead played with confidence after the restart and, after some fine build-up play, Esser scored her second on 41 minutes.

Rochelle Gianfrancesco then had to make an important save to maintain the hosts’ advantage, and it proved to be a key moment because Esser completed her hat-trick just before the hour-mark, cleverly volleying a lifted ball over the keeper – and Cathcart added further gloss to the scoreline in the final seconds.

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Hampstead now have a week off before their biggest game of the season so far against league leaders Sevenoaks, who have won all six of their opening fixtures and scored 27 goals in the process.

On Sunday, Hampstead travelled to Chelmsford and won their cup tie 3-1 with goals from Katherine Baker, Katherine Langridge and Kate McCaw.

The third round will be against Sevenoaks on Sunday November 6 – the day after the league meeting between the clubs.

Meanwhile, Hampstead and Westminster’s men’s team twice lost the lead at home in the men’s Premier Division, conceding a second equalising goal five minutes from time in a frustrating 2-2 draw with Wimbledon on Sunday.

Rupert Shipperley opened the scoring after seven minutes with a neat deflection from a firm Matt Guise-Brown pass, but Wimbledon struck back just before the break as Simon Mantell fired powerfully home from a penalty corner.

Hampstead regained their lead less than two minutes into the second half as another killer ball from Guise-Brown gave Jonny Codling the chance to tap in from an acute angle.

But the hosts were unable to put the game to bed, while Wimbledon remained a threat on the break – and they levelled again late on, with the ball falling to Gordon McIntyre after another penalty corner was repelled.

Hampstead slipped to fifth in the table but are only two points off the top in a congested title race.

Elsewhere, West Hampstead triumphed 3-1 away against Staines in Southern Premier Division Two on Saturday, with a brace from Laxman Karan and a goal from Lennart Garritsen leaving them ninth in the standings.