Pendle Forest stamped their authority on the North Hockey Women’s League Premier Division once more after stretching their remarkable unbeaten run to 86 games.
Forest faced their closest competitors in the league but extended their advantage at the summit to nine points with a 4-1 win over Doncaster.
The visitors arrived with a point to prove having let a two-goal advantage slip in their last meeting in October. However, Forest had no such troubles on this occasion.
In the opening minutes Doncaster penetrated the Forest D, taking quick free hits and allowing themselves to eliminate Forest players that were too close, but good defensive tackles, particularly by Dani Hornby, kept them at bay.
Forest forced their way back through the lines and were awarded a penalty corner which Lisa Crewe - selected in England Hockey’s team of the week - converted with a top D strike, beating the goalkeeper and finding the bottom left of the goal.
Forest were finding space down the line but play wasn’t quite so free-flowing as they went into the break 1-0 up.
Into the second half the away side’s back line stood strong and Forest had to wait until the 45th minute to add to their lead.
Crewe turned provider, sending an aerial ball over the defence for Charlotte Hartley to pounce on and place past the keeper.
Doncaster came straight back with their reply and although Forest goalkeeper Laura Kendall made an amazing diving save to her left, the visiting attack cleared up and brought it back to 2-1.
Then, as Forest attacked once more, Thea Cormack’s quick stick work encouraged a free hit.
Having hastily squared the ball to Crewe, a deceptive pass was then slotted through to Hartley who slipped it under the keeper for her second of the game.
The former England international then claimed her hat-trick, giving Forest a bit more breathing space.
Crewe took a quick side line ball, which was picked up by Olivia Bythell, was swiftly moved on to Thea Cormack and finally finding Hartley who took it round the keeper to convert and complete the scoring.
Forest now go into the Christmas break, regrouping again on January 12th where they’ll entertain Neston at 11-30 a.m.
Meanwhile, Pendle Forest’s second string made it through to the semi-finals of the Caley Cup with a comprehensive win over local rivals Clitheroe and Blackburn.
Fielding a full side Pendle pressed from the whistle, gaining possession from a strong tackle in midfield by Ali de Curtis seconds in.
A pass to player of the match Harriet Ashworth on the right and a through ball to Karen Wignall resulted in the first opportunity of the match that was saved by the keeper.
Dominating possession and controlling the match Pendle’s first goal came from Judith Hind, a well timed pass into the D touched deftly past the keeper.
Settling into their own game Pendle’s dominance was apparent. A free hit on the left was cut out by Cathy Killgallon who switched to Wignall across the pitch on the right.
Driving to the D, she slipped the ball to Francesca Ratcliffe whose first time shot wrong-footed the keeper to make it 2-0.
Swift accurate passing, strong drives down the wings and quickly taken free hits saw Hind and Ratcliffe taking turns to increase the goal tally, with the latter netting in-between Hind’s double.
Pendle didn’t relax in the second half, starting as they’d finished the first. It wasn’t long before Hind got her fourth and Ratcliffe her third courtesy of excellent, unselfish delivery from Amy Tricket, Cath Hutchinson, Zoe Kidney, Mawgan Naylor and Wignall.
Clitheroe’s only opportunity for a consolation goal came midway through the half. A long pass to the backline was kept in and diving keeper Jayne Kirkpatrick took the ball with her stick before Sarah Towers calmly cleared.
Wignall got on the score sheet late on in the match with another two goals to take Pendle through to the final four in February with a 9-0 victory.