Pendle Forest moved six points clear at the top of the North Hockey Women’s League Premier Division with a 4-1 win at Sheffield Hallam on Saturday – extending their unbeaten league record to 84 games.
Forest faced a youthful side and soon settled into their stride, dominating possession and creating chances.
Olivia Bythell dribbled round the D towards the base line at speed, crossing the ball, only to watch it glide across the open goal.
Forest managed to take the lead after 10 minutes when Hayley Baines sent an inch-perfect pass through to Charlotte Hartley, who reached the back line, drew the keeper and passed to Steph Bedford, who put the ball away.
Two minutes later, Freya Bythell intercepted a midfield ball, burst into the D, and her deflected shot returned into her path, and she was able to strike the ball again, with Bedford on hand to deflect it in and bag her second.
Lisa Crewe and Hartley were running riot, forcing the Sheffield keeper to make saves, but it was Hartley who gave Forest a 3-0 lead when using her pace.
She intercepted a square ball by the defence, leaving her one on one with the keeper, and she slipped the ball into the back of the net.
She went close again before the break, only to see her reverse stick strike go over.
After the break, Sheffield earned two penalty corners in succession, the second giving them a lifeline with a scrappy goal from a defensive mix up.
Forest regained their three-goal lead from a penalty corner, with a strike from player of the match Bedford taking a deflection towards Freya Bythell, who swept the ball home.
Forest dominated the rest of the game, Baines twice going close, and Crewe bringing a good save out of the keeper.
Sheffield kept trying to break out but great work down the flanks by Liv Purtil, Sam Parker and Dani Hornby regained possession, feeding Bedford and Thea Cormack in midfield, giving them chance to show off their stick work.
Tomorrow they travel again to Durham.
Pendle Forest seconds hosted fifth place Lancaster University firsts.
Lancaster earned a number of penalty corners during the first half, that were dealt with and cleared.
Chances of their own came from Zoe Kidney, Cathy Killgallon, Judith Hind and Karen Wignall, who unfortunately couldn’t capitalise.
The deadlock was broken just before half-time when Pendle seemed to switch off, allowing a Lancaster forward a clear line into the D, sliding keeper Jayne Kirkpatrick unable to keep the ball from trickling over the backline.
The second half was as lively as the first, and excellent communication and Forest camped in the attacking half for the first 10 minutes.
A Pendle infringement in the Lancaster half saw a break from the visitors. Keeper Kirkpatrick was unable to deal with the two on one situation, as Lancaster doubled their lead.
Pendle earned their first penalty corner. A move created by Killgallon down the left wing to Francesca Ratcliffe, who drove the ball into the D, a Lancaster foot denying her a shot on goal. Hind injected to Killgallon, whose straight strike hit the backboard.
Pendle pressed to level the score, Wignall driving into the D and slipping to Hind, who just couldn’t connect.
With two minutes left, Pendle pressed and a penalty corner was awarded. Hind injected and Killgallon beat the keeper with pace.