Pendle Forest stretched their remarkable unbeaten run to 75 games after beating last season’s North Hockey Women’s Premier League runners up Whitley Bay.
The visitors began on the front foot and showed early periods of dominance as they pressed against the Forest defence.
They split the defence a couple of times but tight, shadow marking by Olivia Purtill and vigilance by goalkeeper Laura Kendall saw the Whitley Bay attackers run off the back line, and although coming close they were unable to penetrate through to goal.
Forest also began to find cracks in their opponent’s defence and forced opportunities of their own.
A defensive hit-out found Freya Bythell who rolled out sharply and sent the ball ahead finding Charlotte Hartley.
The one-time England international made no mistake when drawing out the keeper and finding the goal, giving Forest the early spoils.
The momentum continued to flow in Forest’s favour and, following a succession of penalty corners, Lisa Crewe doubled the lead before the break, firing home the rebound once the goalkeeper had repelled her initial attempt.
In the lead but still with work to do, Forest had to stay positive. Direct passing was key and forwards Crewe and player of the match Hartley put the defence through their paces.
The pair stole back the ball and carried it forward at speed, coming close to scoring on several occasions, only to be denied by the excellent opposition keeper.
Whitley Bay began to lose shape as Forest’s midfield and forwards ploughed in with no let up. The game finished with a 2-0 win to Forest and it could have been more.
Next up they play Doncaster away.
Meanwhile, Forest’s second string were always destined to be up against it when they faced a young, physical Fylde team.
Fylde came out strong pressing the Pendle defence from the whistle, earning themselves several penalty corners.
However, they failed to capitalise and Pendle turned defence to attack, with Karen Wignall coming close.
Fylde opened the scoring from their sixth penalty corner, sliding the ball underneath goalkeeper Jayne Kirkpatrick.
Forest didn’t let their heads drop and minutes later Judith Hind equalised after Sarah Towers and Cathy Kilgallon were involved in the build up.
After levelling the game the visitors started to really press the opposition, playing high, passing well and producing numerous opportunities.
Forest battled and were rewarded with their second goal from Haley Baines who lifted the ball over the keeper’s pads.
Going into the second half ahead, Pendle started strong and their third came from a penalty corner that was slipped left to Kilgallon who fired it home.
With a minute left on the clock the away side rounded off the scoring, making it 4-1 as Hind made a satisfying sound on the back board after sweeper Janet Mitchell-Stanworth supplied a beautiful pass to Karen Wignall and Kilgallon created the opening with a textbook step over.
Forest’s third team travelled up the M6 to Lancaster University to play a very organised Lancaster first team.
Forest had key players missing including skipper, Paula Markham. As such Emily Dunleavy took on the role and set a fine example in the centre of midfield.
After Forest failed to capitalise when having the upper hand, Lancaster’s young team found their stride and converted a penalty corner despite Beccy Bell’s mid-air block.
Lancaster managed to net again from a second penalty corner, making it two from two, and the score remained like that until half time.
At the restart, Forest worked even harder and got their reward when they were awarded a penalty corner.
Dunleavy hit out to Bell who struck well but was blocked. Harriett Ashworth collected the stray ball and squared left in the D to Emma Ziegloser who hammered home with a belting strike.
Jane Lofthouse as always was outstanding in the Forest goal and her heroics kept Forest in the game at times.
However, Lancaster did break and scored a third before hunting for a fourth.
Lofthouse remained defiant in goal, keeping the full-time score at 3-1.