Pendle Forest ace Lisa Crewe cuts Whitley Bay down to size with late penalty strike after Laura Kendall heroics
In contrast, Bay came out with high intensity, giving Forest no time on the ball and they were rewarded with an early penalty flick.
The ball came in from the right and the home forward deflected it on to the defender’s feet and then promptly put the ball in the back of the net.
Thinking they had scored Bay retreated to the half way line, but the umpire had already blown for a penalty corner and the goal was disallowed.
There then ensued a conversation between the two umpires who upgraded the penalty corner to a penalty flick – to the amazement of the Forest defence.
This was a chance for goalkeeper Laura Kendall to get into the action, having spent much of the season not touching the ball. A Bay forward stepped up and shot to the keeper’s right with Kendal making a flying save only to see the ball go wide.
This woke Forest up and against the run of play they took the lead.
Olivia Bythell tackled hard allowing Freya Bythell to pounce on the ball and slap it into Lisa Crewe, she provided a first time ball for Charlotte Hartley who wrong footedthe keeper, managed to roll it round to her right, before slotting the ball into the back of the net.
Getting more of a grip on the game, Forest really should have had more goals before half-time, Steph Bedford had two shots saved by the home keeper and Crewe’s drag flick went narrowly wide of the post.
After the half-time, Forest came back out firing and created early chances, with Hayley Baines almost connecting in front of goal.
It was, however, against the run of play that Whitley equalised with a penalty corner. The initial shot was saved by Kendall but the rebound was lifted home. Forest continued to press but the opposition keeper kept them in the game making several saves.
This wasn’t Forest’s best performance and as the game progressed it looked like a week where they could even have dropped points.
The game was finally won when Hartley managed to strike once more at goal but it was Bedford who picked up the rebound and had the shot saved on the line by a leg resulting in an immediate penalty flick decision. The experienced keeper used her best delaying tactics but it was Crewe who stepped up and calmly gave Forest the lead once again and ultimately the victory.
The next fixture will be played in the 2nd March at home to Sheffield Hallam as Forest are unable to fulfil the away fixture against Wakefield due to half term holidays, this resulted in them being deducted three points but they stay top of the table.
Elsewhere, Pendle Forest seconds travelled to hosts Lancaster and Morecambe first team for the semi-finals of the Caley Cup.
Having been beaten in their league match earlier in the season and with a depleted squad due to injury and half-term, Pendle knew they would have a tough match on their hands.
Lancaster came out fast and strong, dominating play and pinning Pendle for the vast majority of the first 10 minutes in their own half receiving several long and penalty corners which Pendle calmly dealt with under the barrage of attacks.
A scrap in front of the Pendle goalmouth saw Rebecca Whitham come away with the ball only to be dispossessed and it pushed through her legs into the net.
Pendle stepped up their intensity after going a goal behind, creating more link up play to the forwards earning themselves two penalty corners in succession that an in-form Lancaster team defended well.
A fast-paced match saw Pendle on the back foot, seemingly always second to the ball in 50/50 challenges.
Lancaster’s second came from a miscommunication in the Pendle defence. A ball through to a unmarked player on the flick spot, whipped first time to the bottom corner past keeper Jayne Kirkpatrick who felt she should have done better.
Lancaster made it three just before half-time leaving Pendle to reassess their strategies at the break.
Forest started the second half with more vigour than the first – playing faster passes and taking free hits quicker.
Long balls to the forward line seemed to be the only way to break through the Lancaster midfield, the keeper denying any consolation goals for the visitors.
A fourth came from a fast break, a two-on-one with Kirkpatrick, saw a slipped ball slotted into an open goal.
Player of the match was Mawgan Naylor.