Pendle Forest lost 2-1 at Alderley Edge in the first of three vital North Hockey Women’s League Division 1 play-off ames on Saturday.
The Division 2 North West champions travelled to the Division 2 South West winners, looking to go one better than last year, when they finished third in the four-team group.
Forest turned up ready for action, but in the first 10 minutes they were feeling the pressure as Alderley Edge pressed and testing the defence.
A dispute over a penalty corner then led to a Forest defender being sent back to the halfway line, so with only four on the backline, Forest breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the shot go wide.
Having dealt with the initial pressure, Forest settled into the game, but quickly realised that there was no room for error as each pass required speed and accuracy, or it would be pounced upon by the young Alderley Edge side.
Good work down the wings from Kayleigh Vickers and Thea Cormack saw Forest with attacks of their own, but not quite managing to find the net in the D.
With the score 0-0 at half-time, it was still all to play for.
Alderley Edge began to show some good individual skill and for a while had Forest penned into the last third of the pitch.
They finally found the net when, at a penalty corner, with a deceptive shot, they passed the defender accurately on the line.
Undeterred, Forest, with a penalty corner of their own equalised when Lisa Crewe slotted the ball under the keeper at speed.
Alderley Edge still had reserves, and although there was some excellent solid tackling from player of the match Dani Hornby in defence, another swift strike left Forest 2-1 down.
Battling back well, Forest were unable to turn things around for the many supporters who had travelled, but will be looking for a better share of the spoils at tomorrow’s fixture at home to Leeds Adel, kick-off 11-30 a.m. at Marsden Heights.
Forest then round off their round-robin play-off fixtures next Saturday, April 23rd, against Newcastle at Weetwood, Leeds, kick-off 12-30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the second and third teams were also in action on a big day for the club.
Both faced finals at Stanley Park in Blackpool, with the seconds taking on Leyland and Chorley for the Caley Trophy, while the thirds played Clitheroe for the Lishman Plate.
Leyland were unbeaten this season and had won the Lancashire Premier Division having already beaten Forest’s seconds 6-0 this season.
Leyland went ahead from a penalty corner, but Forest fought back and were on top.
Freya Bythell put a drag flick an inch over the crossbar, before Judith Hind deflected in Bythell’s shot from a short corner.
Forest had chances to go ahead, with Thea Cormack shining, but against the run of play, Leyland got another penalty corner and it crawled over the line to seal the win.
The thirds had more joy against Clitheroe thirds, as they beat Clitheroe 1-0 to win the Lishman Plate, with Claire Birkett scoring a late winner.
Amy Trickett was named player of the match, with Rachael O’Brien and Cath Hutchinson also impressing.