Unbeaten Pendle Forest are six points clear at the top of the North Hockey Women’s League Division 2 North West going into the Christmas break.
Forest played local rivals Clitheroe on Tuesday night in a rearranged game, and emerged 6-0 winners.
Forest always expect a tough test from their Ribble Valley counterparts, and this match was no different.
Clitheroe started brightly, with their centre forward causing problems among the Forest defence.
Clitheroe had a couple of opportunities to go ahead early on, but the outstanding Laura Kendall in goal was equal to everything they had to offer.
A crunching tackle from Dani Hornby in the centre of defence seemed to settle Forest down, and the midfield of Charlotte O’Brien, Deb Bythell, Olivia Bythell and Charlotte Hartley started to dominate possession.
Forest went ahead midway through the first half when O’Brien found herself unmarked at the right side of the D to slap the ball home.
The game was by no means over, and Clitheroe came back at Forest.
A superb last-ditch tackle from sweeper Jan Cormack was the catalyst for the second goal as the ball was played out from defence, through the midfield, and found Karen Wignall, who wrong-footed the keeper to find the bottom left corner.
Forest could have had more goals but for the brilliant work of the Clitheroe keeper, who saved one shot with her helmet, and Hartley put a good chance wide at a short corner.
Forest started the second half where they left off in the first half, but struggled to create any clear cut opportunities until midway through when Lisa Crewe combined with Hartley for the latter to score the third goal of the game.
Clitheroe seemed to lose their composure at this stage, and a foot on the line by a Clitheroe defender led to a penalty flick that Crewe confidently stood up for and tucked it away to the keeper’s right.
Clitheroe weren’t to be outdone and showed moments of brilliance on the forward line, but saves from Kendall and tackles from Hornby, Cormack, Sam Parker and Kayleigh McKane frustrated the opposition.
The fifth goal was the goal of the match as Olivia Bythell disposessed a Clitheroe forward at the right side of defence, and played the ball down the line for Crewe to latch onto.
Crewe played a first time ball to Hartley in the centre of the pitch, who could have easily gone on to shoot herself, but unselfishly passed to Wignall, who slotted home her second of the game.
With Clitheroe in disarray in defence, Crewe found herself with an open goal after a pass from Hartley, but managed to put it wide of the post.
She manged to get her second of the game in the last couple of minutes for the final score to be 6-0.
Forest are now six points clear of Garstang at the top of the league.
Their first match back after Christmas is away against Longridge on January 9th.
The second team are next in action on Saturday, January 9th at home to Lancaster and Morecame, while the thirds look to extend their 100% league start on the same date at Lytham St Annes Ladies.