SOPHIE Shakespeare bagged a hat-trick as Reading Women beat Oxford Hawks 4-1 to move top of the Investec League Conference West for the first time, writes Dave Wright.

The Blues, now unbeaten in eight games, took over from Trojans, who slumped to a surprise 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Olton & West Warwicks.

Shakespeare went into Sunday’s game high on confidence following her two goals in the win at Isca the previous week and it took her just three minutes to extend her scoring run.

Reading’s first penalty corner of the afternoon led to Emma Royce doubling her side’s lead in the 16th minute and shortly after half time Shakespeare added the third goal.

Hawks pulled one back through Katie Lowe before Shakespeare completed her treble on 61 minutes, taking her season’s goal tally to seven goals.

Reading Chronicle:

Reading's Emma Thomas (blue) dribbled past an Oxford opponent. Pictures: Paul Johns. Order code: 171146.

“It was another good win and we are happy with how things are going for us this season,” said team captain Emma Thomas, whose sister Lex was playing for Oxford.

Playing their last home game of the year, Reading now face two tough away fixtures – away to third-placed Stourport this Saturday (2.30pm) followed by Trojans a week later.

Reading Men suffered a 5-3 defeat at Premier Division leaders Surbiton on Saturday evening and slip to sixth place in the table.

But coach Jason Lee stated: “We played well, it was one of our best performances of the season.

“We fought back from 4-1 to 4-3 and the game could have gone either way. I think we deserved a draw at least.

“They only scored their fifth goal at the very end after we had withdrawn our keeper.”

Reading Chronicle:

Smart stick-work from Reading's Fran Clements. 

Blues had taken a 10th-minute lead through Ed Carson, but poor defending which left opponents unmarked in the circle led to them conceding goals to David Goodfield on 18 minutes, Alan Forsyth four minutes later and Luke Taylor, with a drag-flick from his side’s second penalty corner on the half-hour mark.

When Forsyth added his second and Surbiton’s fourth in the 54th minute the game looked over.

However, within a minute Blues reduced their arrears through James Carson and Ben Boon’s strike in the 62nd minute brought them right back in the hunt.

But their hopes of salvaging a point ended in the penultimate minute when Arjan Drayton Chana netted Surbiton’s fifth, shortly after Reading had withdrawn keeper Tommy Alexander.

Blues are home to fifth-placed East Grinstead this Saturday (6pm).

Reading Chronicle:

Emma Thomas in action for Reading.

On Sunday, Reading opened their defence of the knock-out trophy they won at Lee Valley last May by hammering Bromley & Beckenham 9-1 at Sonning Lane.

James Carson netted four goals while helping Ben Boon to score twice. Lee Mason, Ted Warren and Sam Howell completed the scoring for a Reading team missing several regulars. They led 4-0 at half-time.

Bromley’s late consolation goal came from Peter Dobson’s penalty stroke.

Reading’s injured defender Liam Sanford was forced to withdraw from the Great Britain squad who are playing three Tests against Germany in Mannheim this week with his place going to club colleague Dan Kyriakides, the Welsh international.

In the opening match on Monday, Reading captain Tom Carson marked his international return after being sidelined by a hand injury with a goal, but it wasn’t enough as GB lost 5-3.