Hampstead & Westminster’s women take over at top, as men keep pace with leaders

Amy Askew puts pressure on (pic Mark Clews)

Amy Askew puts pressure on (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Hampstead & Westminster’s women took over at the top of the East Conference table after a fantastic win double at Paddington Rec.

Amy Askew puts pressure on (pic Mark Clews)

Amy Askew puts pressure on (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Second-placed Cambridge City were the visitors on Saturday, having become the first team to beat Hampstead for two seasons in their away meeting.

And Hampstead got their revenge, as Rochelle Gianfrancesco made some fine saves before Jasmine Clarke scrambled home the opener.

Amy Askew added a second from a corner two minutes later and slotted home again to make it 3-0 in quick time.

The visitors hit back after the restart from a corner, but great defending by Meg Byas and Fleur Horner and impressive work by Emily Douglas denied them after that.

Lauren Turner celebrates (pic Mark Clews)

Lauren Turner celebrates (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

Lauren Turner capped a fine 4-1 win late on to move Hampstead above their rivals, before hosting Harleston Magpies the following day in their game in hand on leaders Wimbledon.

Both teams looked tired early on, with Harleston putting plenty of bodies behind the ball, but Hampstead made the breakthrough five minutes before half time as Turner converted a penalty flick.

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The home side dominated possession in the second half and created good chances, with Mel Wilkinson eventually slotting into the bottom corner after a good spell of pressure.

The 2-0 win completed a superb six-point weekend haul and left Hampsted in pole position ahead of a visit to Maida Vale from another title contender in Sevenoaks on Saturday.

Richard Smith fires goalwards (pic Mark Clews)

Richard Smith fires goalwards (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

The men kept pace with Premier Division leaders Surbiton with a hard-fought win over Reading.

Rupert Shipperly won an early short corner, which Matt Guise-Brown dispatched into the bottom corner, and Richard Smith fired home from another set-piece to double the lead on 18 minutes.

Toby Reynolds-Cotterill was only troubled once by the Reading attack before the break and the visitors continued to struggle in the face of strong defensive work from Hampstead.

Marc Edwards cleared the first of four Reading short corners off the line on 52 minutes, before Steve Kelly made it 3-0 seven minutes from time.

Matt Guise-Brown (pic Mark Clews)

Matt Guise-Brown (pic Mark Clews) - Credit: Archant

A poor challenge by Paul Melkert and dissent from Shipperly led to two green cards and a corner, with Reading removing their goalie.

But Hampstead held firm to move level on points with Surbiton ahead as the season enters a crucial phase.