Pendle Forest are a win away from the North Hockey Women’s League Division 2 North West title after two wins over the week.
With three games remaining, including two in Liverpool this weekend at Formby tomorrow and Northern on Sunday, the locals have an eight-point advantage over closest rivals Clitheroe and Blackburn Northern.
On Saturday, Forest first team beat second bottom Wigton 2-0.
Forest soaked up a little bit of pressure from Wigton, but their class soon began to tell, dominating possession and pinning Wigton back.
Cathy Waters and Charlotte O’Brien both went close before Laura Kendall’s only save of the game from a short corner.
Forest made the breakthrough from a short corner when Waters shot was deflected into the net off a Wigton stick.
Forest had numerous other short corners but failed to capitalise, and after a penalty shout was ignored, O’Brien forced a brilliant save just before half-time.
The second half followed a smiliar pattern, and Forest had countless chances before finally scoring a second when a short corner was slipped to O’Brien on the left, whose shot was again deflected in.
Forest then played Preston on Tuesday evening in a rearranged game.
Forest started strongly but struggled to make a breakthrough as Preston packed their defence.
The first half became fairly even and Kendall was forced into making a good save from a short corner.
But the locals got their noses in front when a shot took a wicked deflection off a Preston stick and the looped into the goal to put Forest 1-0 up at the break.
Preston came out fighting in the second half and had a period of sustained pressure, but Forest doubled their lead when Fiona Head made a forward run straight from the sideline to get on the end of a superb team move involving Deb and Olivia Bythell, turning the ball in at the back post.
O’Brien saw a reverse stick effort hit the outside of the post, but Forest took the points to put them on the brink of the title.
The second team beat Preston 1-0 on Saturday to climb out of the relegation zone.
The first half was evenly matched, with both teams creating half chances, but neither side capitalising.
During the second half Preston started to dominate possession and pinned the Forest defence inside their own half for periods, but superb defending from Rosie Southworth kept them at bay.
Forest always looked threatening on the counter attack and Kayleigh Vickers and Judith Hind both had chances before Hind turned the Preston defence and scored the only goal of the game from an acute angle with 10 minutes remaining.
l Two members of Pendle Forests’ first team have received excellent news following North Masters trials.
Cathy Waters, first team captain, has been selected to represent the North Masters Over 40s squad, while Fiona Head has been selected to represent the North Masters over 50s. Both players have a final squad training session in Wakefield in March before playing in the Scottish Masters in April before the culmination of a season’s hard work - the North Masters in Wakefield in July.