Pendle Forest had to come from behind to maintain their 100% record in the North Hockey Women’s League Division 1 at third place Brooklands Poynton on Saturday.
And their 3-2 success was their 40th-consecutive league win.
This was the first time in a while that Forest had to chasing a lead.
It was immediately evident that the game would be fiesty, as Brooklands Poynton muscled their way into the D, and a first time strike on the turn put them ahead.
Forest fought back, and equalised after 10 minutes when, tucked in at the left post, player of the match Freya Bythell deflected the ball in from a penalty corner strike by Charlotte Hartley.
Forest soon sussed out the Brooklands Poynton tactical game, and the forwards began to run freely at the home defence.
A deliberate trip en route to goal allowed Hartley to step up and take a penalty flick which she comfortably converted to put Forest ahead and give them a bit of breathing space.
And Hartley was unlucky not to be awarded a second penalty when a defender brought her down when she was through on goal.
There was still work to do as Brooklands Poynton’s physical presence allowed them a strong attacking spell after the break.
Goalkeeper Laura Kendall was brought into the action several times, making solid saves and clearances.
The umpires were feeling the pressure, and a first card appeared for Brooklands, followed by a yellow card for Olivia Bythell.
Then with Bythell back on, it was only minutes before she saw the sideline once again, closely followed by sister Freya to leave Forest down to nine.
Forest were never allowed to relax, and Brooklands managed to equalise from a well-struck penalty corner with only eight minutes left.
Back up to 10, Forest replied with great passing down both wings, Sam Parker and Kayleigh Vickers linking up well on the left, and on the right Olivia Purtill and Thea Cormack kept hold of the ball, playing a tactical game.
Fantastic tackling from the Bythell sisters in the centre kept Brooklands at arm’s length, while up front Hartley, Hayley Baines and Karen Wignall were testing the defence.
Continuous hard work and discipline earned Forest another penalty corner in the dying seconds, and Hartley’s straight strike just slipped under the keeper’s right hand.
Tomorrow, Forest have an 11-30 a.m. start against Harrogate at home at Marsden Heights Community College.
l Charlotte Hartley’s two goals, including her late winner at Brooklands Poynton, earned her a nomination and a place in the latest England Hockey Team of the Week.
Charlotte, who helped England win bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games , and the englandhockey website said: “Charlotte was undoubtedly the hero of the day for her side as she scored a penalty flick and a late winner to give her side a 3-2 win, extending their victorious streak to an staggering 40 games! According to her nominator, Charlotte ‘gave blood and guts’ – we hope this was metaphorically, not literally…”