Lisa Crewe hit a hat-trick as Pendle Forest extended their lead at the top of the North Hockey Women’s League Division 1 to six points with another convincing win on Saturday.
Forest made it eight wins out of eight as they brushed Harrogate aside at Marsden Heights.
They couldn’t have had a better start against fourth place Gate.
In under a minute, Charlotte Hartley weaved through a sleepy defence and went clear on goal.
She took the ball wide of the goalkeeper and reverse hit the ball into the back netting with ease.
Shortly after, Crewe intercepted a ball across the defence, and drilled it clean across goal, hitting the back board with a thud.
Crewe immediately found the corner again when Sam Parker played the ball down the line to Hartley, who in turn fed Crewe, who created an opening with superb stick work and hit a straight strike inside the near post, putting Forest 3-0 ahead after six minutes.
Passing play then took over for much of the first half, and composure at the back by Forest, particularly from player of the match Jan Cormack, kept Harrogate at bay.
In the first few minutes after the break, Crewe struck again, making it 4-0 from a deceptive penalty corner shot.
Before the break, Harrogate had got themselves back in the game, enjoying a period of pressure, but this goal was a definite blow, and although they continued to battle, it was always going to be an uphill struggle.
They created one or two chances on goal, and came close to scoring, but defensively Forest stood firm, and solid tacking by Deb Bythell in a goalmouth scramble, followed up by a body save from keeper Laura Kendall, denied Harrogate their best chance to score.
Forest continued to play simple hockey and were creating chances with some delightful crosses, which were just out of reach to convert.
A couple of Harrogate players were green carded for ill-discipline as they became frustrated, but the game was finished off when a shot by Freya Bythell at a penalty corner hit the keeper’s pads and was followed up by midfielder Kayleigh Vickers, who struck the ball hard at goal, sealing a 5-0 win for Forest, continuing their long streak of winning games, which is now up to 41.
Tomorrow’s game is at Leeds Adel.
Meanwhile, in an away fixture, Pendle Forest seconds were firing on all cylinders after beating Lancaster and Morecambe on penalties in their cup match last week.
Taking on the same opposition, Forest started strongly, with great movement and passing round the back.
They took the match to Morecambe from the whistle, reacting confidently to a high pressing and very physical side, defending calmly under pressure.
Morecambe capitalised through a penalty corner a few minutes before half-time, with Janet Mitchell-Stanworth stopping the ball on the line, but the pace on the shot saw the ball hit the backboard.
Key tactical decisions at half-time from coach Ian Bythell saw a renewed Pendle in the second half.
Well-executed passes and movement through midfield earned a deserved penalty corner, which was converted by Cathy Killgallon’s straight strike into the right corner.
The last minutes of the match were heated, each team going for the win, but at the final whistle, the match ended 1-1 in a closely fought contest.
Player of the match was awarded by the coach, and saw Jayne Kirkpatrick, Julie Portman, Francesca Ratcliffe, Amy Tricket and Mawgan Naylor all take the honours.