Forest make it third-time lucky in promotion hunt

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Pendle Forest made it third time lucky as their perfect season resulted in promotion to Division One of the North Hockey Women’s League.

In the previous two seasons, Forest had fallen at the final hurdle in the play-offs, after winning Division Two North West.

But on Saturday, they celebrated promotion without the need for a final play-off game, as they and Morpeth Ladies clinched the top two places in the round robin group, without the need to face each other in Wakefield this weekend.

Entering into their second play-off fixture at Deeside, it was evident that it was going to be no easy task for Forest.

The promising young Deeside team were immediatley going into tackles hard and low, and had outlets to work with.

Forest had outlets of their own and gained the first penalty corner, but Deeside, with a breakaway, placed the ball out of reach of the Forest defence to leave the visitors trailing 1-0 up after nine minutes.

Although punished for their lack of alertness, Forest pushed on and gained several penalty corners, as well as having chances going narrowly wide of the post.

The momentum was now with Forest though, and Lisa Crewe, after hitting the post moments before, put Forest on an equal footing with her strike on goal.

Fellow forward Charlotte Hartley then fired a reverse stick shot, beating the keeper and putting Forest ahead just before half-time.

Forest managed to keep up the intensity, and despite contending with the heat, the wing channels were working well, with good support from behind.

Ten minutes into the second half, a great pass from Deb Bythell found Hartley, who drew the keeper to the edge of the D and then hammered it into the back of the net.

Forest were sitting a little more comfortably at 3-1 up, thanks to a tireless effort in midfield, in particular from player of the match Olivia Bythell, alongside the excellent tracking back by the whole team to ensure they kept hold of the lead.

Five minutes from the end, an incisive pass from the left by Crewe to Hartley allowed her another reverse stick conversion. Then finally in the last minute a cheeky reverse stick, past the keeper by Hartley secured her fourth goal of the game, giving Forest the convincing 5-1 win.

This win culminated in them no longer having to play their oustanding fixture, becoming well-deserved play off champions, with Morpeth second on goal difference.

Both teams are now promoted to the North League Division One for season 2017/18.