Photo credit: @asandysmith (Twitter)
Two early goals saw Beeston spoil the Clifton Robinsons party as a landmark day for the Bristol-based club ended in defeat in the Vitality Women’s Premier Division.
Clifton were celebrating their 500th top-flight match, the first side to reach the milestone, but fell behind after just three minutes as Sophie Robinson tapped in the opener.
The hosts doubled their lead five minutes later courtesy of Lucy Millington and though both goalscorers later received cards, Beeston comfortably held on for all three points.
The victors now have a four-point cushion in the top six following their second win in three games and have closed to within two points of Clifton in fifth.
Leaders Hampstead & Westminster maintained their 100 per cent record with a routine 3-0 home win over struggling Swansea.
The bottom-of-the-table visitors held firm through the opening quarter in the capital but their stubborn resistance was broken on the stroke of half-time as Emily Douglas slotted home from a penalty corner.
A strong third quarter then put the unbeaten hosts out of reach, with a fine goal from Fran Tew doubling the advantage before Sarah Robertson sealed her side’s ninth successive victory on 48 minutes.
Sophie Bray bagged a 15-minute hat-trick as East Grinstead ran riot at University of Birmingham, coming home with a 7-0 victory to keep hold of second spot.
Fatin Sukri’s 14th-minute opener set the visitors on their way before Bray’s quickfire treble stretched the lead in style.
Nuraini Rashid added a fifth and Ellie Rayer’s late brace added further gloss to the scoreline on a tough afternoon for the students.
Elsewhere, a Hollie Pearne-Webb brace helped Wimbledon to a 5-1 win over Buckingham, with Olivia Chilton, Fiona Crackles and Fiona Burnet also on target for the third-placed side.
And rounding off a good day for home teams, with four of the five hosts winning, were Surbiton as they overcame Loughborough Students 4-2 thanks to goals from Georgie Twigg, Meg Dowthwaite, Darcy Bourne and Sarah Evans – Enya Collier and Kirby Harris netted late consolations for the visitors.
Division One North
University of Nottingham leapfrogged Bowdon at the summit after inflicting a first league defeat of the season on the previous leaders in a battle of the top two. Fellow high-flyers Stourport moved level on points with third-placed Durham University following a 2-0 win while at the other end of the table, Ben Rhydding claimed their first victory of the season after coming from behind to beat still winless Belper 2-1. Brooklands Poynton won by the same scoreline against Gloucester City, moving above their opponents in the process, and Leicester City earned a 2-0 victory at Olton & West Warwicks.
Division One South
Harleston Magpies ended their run of four consecutive defeats in eye-catching fashion as they defeated third-placed Slough 2-1 to pull six points clear of Trojans – who were beaten 1-0 by Wimbledon 2s – at the foot of the table. Reading took advantage of Slough’s slip up to open up a five-point cushion in second following their 3-0 win over Surbiton 2s, though they remain five points adrift of Sevenoaks after the leaders comfortably negotiated a tricky trip to Isca with a 3-0 success of their own. That result, coupled with Canterbury’s 2-1 win at Cambridge City, saw the Kent side move into fifth.
Barnes cruised to a fifth successive victory, putting six past Canterbury 2s without reply to stay two points clear at the summit. Second-placed Southgate also scored six as they came out on top in a nine-goal thriller against Chelmsford and the capital bragging rights went the way of London Wayfarers as they beat East London 5-0. Ipswich’s revival continued as they won their third match on the spin, defeating Horsham 2-1, and Hampstead & Westminster 2s picked up a 2-0 win at Bromley & Beckenham.
The prolific Emma McCabe added four more goals to her tally as unbeaten leaders Sutton Coldfield overcame bottom side Khalsa Leamington 6-2. The chasing pack both came from behind to earn away wins, with second-placed St Albans edging out University of Birmingham 2s 3-2 and Bedford fighting back to beat Cannock 2-1 and land their fifth win on the spin. Loughborough Students eased past Broxbourne 6-0 and four goals were shared between Oxford University and Beeston 2s.
All five matches were won by the home team, which meant a change at the top as Timperley took advantage of Wakefield’s defeat to hit the front. The new leaders beat Neston 3-0 while Wakefield went down 1-0 at Didsbury Northern. Leeds are now second following a 2-0 win over Pendle Forest while Durham University 2s and Doncaster both won to join Wakefield on 13 points – just five points separate the top five teams in a competitive division.
The second-versus-third clash lived up to the billing as Witney and Oxford Hawks played out a 3-3 thriller, the hosts pegging back their visitors on three occasions. The result allowed Bristol Firebrands the chance to stretch their lead at the top and they took it, winning 3-2 at Cheltenham to take their advantage to three points. Clifton Robinsons 2s made the short trip to University of Bristol and came away with their first win of the season in the battle of the bottom two, scoring twice without reply. Team Bath Buccs overcame Penarth 2-1 and Basingstoke shared the spoils with Exe in a 2-2 draw.