National League: Harleston Magpies are lifted by double success

Harleston Magpies Ladies returned to action with a flourish as they recorded victories in the weekend's Conference East double header.

On Saturday, a strong Magpies squad, including Debbie Francis for the first time this season and with Charlotte Lee-Smith in goal, travelled to Old Loughtonians to play on their newly refurbished Olympic training pitches.

Magpies started strongly and Hannah Palmer was denied in a one-on-one with the Loughts keeper.

The visitors continued to pose problems for the home defence but were unable to convert the opportunities created.

The decisive moment of the match arrived seconds before the end of the first half. Emma Lee-Smith beat several Loughts defenders and fed a dangerous cross into the circle, where Angie Wheelhouse deflected the ball into the net.

Magpies continued to contain Loughts effectively in the second half as they recorded their first league win since October.

On Sunday, Magpies hosted Maidstone and secured their biggest win of the season in a 5-1 triumph.

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Lee-Smith's reverse stick shot from an acute angle opened the scoring in the third minute, but Magpies were then thwarted by the Maidstone keeper.

It took until the 29th minute for the hosts to double their lead, through Emily Wilford and two minutes later a penalty corner strike from Lee-Smith made it 3-0.

Emily Wilford sprinted through to add a fourth and Lucy Miller marked her first game of the season with Magpies' fifth goal on 37 minutes.

Maidstone scored following a penalty corner in the 52nd minute.

n Harleston Magpies Men remain in the bottom two of Men's Conference East after draws against their relegation rivals at the weekend.

Magpies picked up a 2-2 draw against Oxted on Saturday, before an incredible 5-5 result at bottom side Bromley & Beckenham on Sunday.

Oxted took the lead on Saturday before Pete Bale's 22nd minute equaliser. The hosts went in front again early in the second half, but Bale's second of the game on 62 minutes gave Magpies a point.

On Sunday, Magpies made a perfect start at Bromley & Beckenham as goals from Mark Stacpoole and Richard Ling put them 2-0 up after 15 minutes. The hosts hit back with a penalty corner strike and a penalty stroke, but Ben Wright restored Magpies' lead.

Wright scored his second after the break and although Bromley pulled one back, Magpies looked to have made the game safe when Tristan Baynes netted from a penalty corner on 45 minutes. Bromley scored their fourth goal six minutes later and hit an equaliser with two minutes remaining.