Forest clinch promotion and second-successive title

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Pendle Forest claimed two wins from two at the weekend to seal the North Hockey Women’s League Division 1 title and a second-successive promotion.

Forest knew six points would make their lead at the top of the table unassailable, and they returned from Didsbury Greys Ladies with a 6-1 win, before easing past Leeds Adel Ladies 11-1 at Marsden Heights Community College on Sunday.

In their 50th year, Forest have built on their Division 2 title and play-offs success, and will now start next season in the Premier Division.

Away at the Armitage Centre against Didsbury Greys, Forest started with a certain dominance, coming close to scoring on more than one occasion.

The ball movement was good, as were 3D stick skills from Freya Bythell and Charlotte Hartley, so it was surprising when they found themselves a goal down when a Didsbury player connected well with a cross in the air and deflected the ball at speed past the defence and goalkeeper.

This only spurred Forest on and they equalised in style when Hartley fired a ball into the D, with Lisa Crewe, outstretched, getting the finest of touches to make it 1-1.

Still battling, Greys were awarded a free hit by the 25 yard line, which resulted in Thea Cormack being green carded for not being 5 metres.

This was closely followed by a Didsbury player being yellow carded and out of the game for six minutes.

With Forest back up to the full compliment, they were awarded a short corner on the half-time whistle.

Crewe had the initial shot on goal, and in a crowded area, Olivia Purtill sent in a cross from the right, finding Karen Wignall, who found the net putting Forest 2-1 ahead.

Immediately after the break, a straight strike by Crewe at a penalty corner made it 3-1.

Quick balls down the flanks by Sam Parker and player of the match Purtill allowed the midfield and forwards to show tidy passing moves throughout. One of these culminated in Freya Bythell lifting the ball into the net.

A tiring Didsbury team meant Forest could easily find the gaps, and a long ball from defence through to Wignall, who then swept the ball across to Hartley for her to take the ball around the keeper to score Forest’s fifth goal, before the 6-1 victory was sealed with another goal from Hartley.

Forest then had the opportunity to become league champions if they beat Leeds Adel at home.

Forest started at a frightening pace and led after three minutes when Hartley opened the scoring.

She then made it 2-1 when she deflected in a ball, sent in by Crewe, at a penalty corner.

Within 10 minutes Forest were 3-0 up, as. after a goal mouth scramble, Thea Cormack was on hand to convert at close range into the bottom right hand corner.

Freya Bythell slotted the fourth goal, coolly taking on the goalkeeper and finding the back board.

Goal number five came from perfect positional play, seeing Purtill deflect the ball in at the right post after after great vision from Crewe, at the top of the D from a short corner.

Two more goals followed from Wignall – a short range tap in, and Hartley, sealing her hat-trick before the half-time whistle, seeing Forest 7-0 up.

Leeds pulled one back, but goals continued to flow as Hayley Baines slotted the ball from the left side of the D at a penalty corner, and Freya Bythell completed her hat-trick with two more goals – the latter being a reverse stick shot through the keeper’s pads.

Player of the match Hartley made the final score 11-1 as Forest claimed the title in style.

Forest are now 72 games unbeaten, with two games remaining this season, at York on Saturday, and at home to the same opponents on Sunday.