Forest ease past Morpeth despite the absence of captain Hartley

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Pendle Forest returned with a 4-0 victory after a three-hour drive up to Morpeth on Saturday.

The North Hockey Women’s League Division 1 leaders are 12 points clear of their closest rivals Newcastle University 1sts and Ben Rhydding Ladies 2nds, after extending their run to 67 games without defeat.

They travelled without their captain and centre forward Charlotte Hartley, however, and Morpeth made an enthusiastic and lively start.

But Forest did enough to keep them at bay in the early period of the game.

Forest took the lead when the Morpeth keeper made a save, but Hayley Baines followed up and deflected the ball into the back of the net.

Morpeth’s response was to get behind the ball in defensive mode, then, with a flurry of attacks of their own, they narrowly missed converting.

One particular chance went wide of the post, and after that Forest snuffed out any further attacks through to half-time.

The manager changed the formation at the break, and as Forest began to move the ball quicker, Morpeth began to tire.

Karen Wignall, Lisa Crewe, Liv Bythell, Thea Cormack and Baines all managed to bring out some great saves from the Morpeth keeper.

Forest won a number of penalty corners, and extended the lead when a shot from Crewe was deflected into the back of the net by Freya Bythell.

Only three minutes later, player of the match Freya Bythell added to the lead, picking up a rebound off the keeper’s pads.

Forest continued to dominate, switching the ball around the back and playing it down both flanks, Cormack making runs down the right, and Baines down the left.

Morpeth’s defence was being dragged all over, but Forest hadn’t finished their onslaught – although the Forest keeper Laura Kendal was called into action, and pulled off a quick reaction save, helping keep a clean sheet.

Then a slick move down the right saw Steph Bedford slip the ball to Cormack, who played a well-timed ball to Bythell, driving along the back line for goal poacher Wignall to find her second goal in two weeks.

All in all, it was a good, solid performance once again, leaving Forest 12 points clear with six games remaining, albeit Newcastle University and Ben Rhydding both have a game in hand.

On Saturday, Forest play at Marsden Heights Community College at 11-30 a.m. against Brooklands Poynton.