Hampton & Richmond manager Mark Harper says life at The Beveree has changed since last season and he could not be happier about it.

Last Saturday’s 1-0 win over fellow Ryman League Premier Division pace-setters Whitehawk opened up a three-point gap at the top of the table, and the Beavers still have a game in hand.

Charlie Moone scored the solitary goal to take his tally to five in eight league appearances.

Harper takes his men on the 300-mile round trip to struggling Leiston this weekend, knowing they need to forget they are top of the table.

He said: “I was more than happy with the lads’ performance on Saturday.

“To be fair to Whitehawk, they probably thought the result could  have gone either way, and it was always going to be one opportunity that nicked the game.

“Possession-wise they were better than us, especially in the first half.

“We were better in the second half and as a result Charlie Moone scored a great goal right at the death.”

He added: “It is so different to last year when we would have all the possession but could not score the goals. I prefer to get the points than have the possession.”

Leiston, unbeaten at home but languishing third from bottom, offer a chance for three more points but Harper is cautious.

He said: “My scout tells me they are underperforming so we need to do our job. Being top means nothing right now.”

Meanwhile, Joe Benjamin has been released.

Harper said: “Joe sets himself very high standards and he was superb in his first few games for us. But he did not maintain that.

“He’s a very confident lad and was a great presence in the dressing room but while he started out as a match winner, he was becoming a match loser and I cannot have that.”

Benjamin has joined Billericay of the Blue Square South.

In the League Cup on Tuesday night, a much-changed Beavers side went down 5-4 at Three Bridges.