CLEE Hill United boss Wayne Whitbread praised his side for shaking off the rust as they continued their defence of the Herefordshire Premier title by beating Westfields Reserves 3-1.

In United's first league game since October 19, Josh Carpenter's hat-trick ensured they remain second behind Malvern Town Reserves with a game in hand and superior goal difference.

Carpenter's treble, including a delightful second-half lob, took his tally to 17 goals in eight league games while Craig Breakwell was unlucky to hit the post with a brilliant volley.

Whitbread, whose side visit fifth-placed Hinton this Saturday, said: "We definitely showed we'd had a lack of football.

"We were pretty rusty, especially in the first half, and we were considerably lucky to find ourselves 1-0 up at half-time.

"The second half was better. We controlled the game and overall I was pleased given we had only played one game in six or seven weeks.

"Our fitness levels aren't where I would like them to be and everyone was just so excited to be playing that I think we forgot what we needed to do, me included on the sidelines!"

In Division One, Tenbury United and Tenbury Town saw games against Hereford City and Hinton Reserves, respectively, called off.

But Ludlow Colts Reserves climbed to seventh with a 2-0 win over Lads Club Reserves thanks to a goal in each half from Jack Mear and debutant Kieran Edwards.

Boss Tom Swinbourne – whose side host third-placed Hinton Reserves this weekend – said: "Our young team seems to have settled in the league now and are improving week on week.

"To see how far they've come since the first day of the season makes me very proud."

Woofferton, meanwhile, suffered a chastening 4-0 defeat at Kington Town Reserves to drop to fifth in Division Two.