PENDLE Forest first team played top of the league Didsbury Northern at home on Saturday, wishing to avenge their 6-0 thrashing from earlier in the season.
Without their normal goalkeeper, Forest had to rely on Fiona Head to step into the breach until Laura Kendall arrived.
Both teams started well and the match was played mostly in the middle third of the pitch.
Didsbury won an early short corner, but Kayleigh McKane was out quickly to intercept the ball.
Forest replied with a short corner of their own, but Dani Atherton’s shot was cleared by the goalkeeper.
Didsbury’s forwards were quick when on the ball ,but the defence of McKane, Sally Evans, Jan Cormack and Sam Parker worked well to snuff out any attacking threats.
Towards the end of the half, Didsbury created a half chance, and, with a reverse stick shot, managed to slip it past Kendall in the Forest goal.
After half-time, Forest were asleep for the first five minutes, and this allowed Didsbury to score a second goal when one of their forwards dribbled into the D, took on the defence and hit a fierce shot into the corner of the goal.
This woke Forest up, and, with the introduction of captain Cathy Waters, they started to create some meaningful chances.
Michelle Smith worked hard down the right hand side and crossed some great balls into the D, without anybody getting onto the end of them.
Waters carved out a chance for herself and sent the ball just wide of the post before Atherton sent another short corner wide of the post.
Right at the death Smith drove along the back line and passed the ball in for Evans to shoot at goal. A foul on the line meant Forest were awarded a penalty stroke, which Atherton (pictured) stepped up to take and duly converted.
Unfortunately for Forest, time was against them and the final whistle blew leaving the final score at 2-1.
Pendle Forest now have four weeks off for the Christmas break.
Forest’s third team met a young, physical Lytham third team.
Initially Lytham seemed the stronger team, but Forest soon settled down and passed the ball well, forcing Lytham to chase the ball and tire.
Forest, as always, fielded a team of experience and youth, a combination which has worked well, and Saturday’s match was no exeption.
Gemma Holden played her first full game at right back and linked in well with club stalwart Judy Bentham and youngster Olivia Bythell, who controlled the Forest defence and repeatedly blocked any Lytham attacking play and distributed the ball up the field for the Forest midfielders to latch on to.
The first goal for Forest was a well-worked team effort, with the ball beginning with Bythell, who passed wide right to Abbie Hunter, who in turn ran down the wing, out pacing the Lytham defenders.
Hunter passed to Hayley Baines, who dribbled into the D and passed a square ball across the front of the stranded keeper to Dee McInnes, who slotted the ball into the left hand corner for her first goal of the season.
Throughout the first half Forest edged it as the better team with a number of chances on goal, including a strike from Cath Hutchinson that was well saved by the Lytham keeper.
Lytham themselves had chances to score, but were denied by great defending, particularly from player of the match Julie Portman at left back.
However, Lytham played the ball against a Forest player’s foot in the D to earn themselves a penalty corner. The corner was well-worked and they fired home to the left of Debs Lancaster in goal to make the match even at 1-1.
The second half was played in similar vein with the Forest youth players shining throughout.
Mawgan Naylor continued to impress as she has done all season, using her skill and strength that defies her young age.
Forest earned a number of penalty corners but the Lytham defence were a match for what Forest threw at them, that was until Bythell stepped up.
The ball was hit out by McInnes, stopped by Baines and slipped right to Bythell, who lifted the ball over all the defenders to see it dip just below the crossbar and hit the backboard of the goal to score Forest’s best goal of the season so far.
The score remained at 2-1 to Forest and earned them a much-needed three points.