Freya fires Pendle Forest to seventh-successive win
Pendle Forest held firm against third place Leeds University to make it seven wins from seven at the top of the North Hockey Women's League Premier Division.
Freya Bythell’s first half goal proved enough to claim the points and make it 81 league games without defeat.
The home side were pushed hard from the beginning, and the opposition caged Forest into their defensive half for a while.
Good ball movement meant that Forest had to organise their defence tactically, constantly moving players on so they could cope with the pressure.
Leeds were reading the ball well but never really looked like scoring and couldn’t make the finish.
Against the run of play, Forest managed a penalty corner of their own, with Lisa Crewe taking a straight strike which was just going wide, but Bythell stormed in at the left post and managed to deflect the ball in and over the line.
At the other end, keeper Laura Kendall made an excellent outstretched stick save, but a penalty corner was given for the previous tackle.
Forest cleared the ball away and the game became an end to end battle.
On 23 minutes, Hayley Baines was green carded for a stick tackle down the wing, but Forest hung on and went into the break 1-0 up.
Immediately into the second half, Crewe ran the ball into the attacking D, but a retrieval and counter attack by Leeds put Forest on the back foot.
This forced Forest to defend in twos, but forming barrier layers, preventing any penetration on the keeper, kept them in the lead.
A flurry of cards then followed when Thea Cormack was green carded for not being five metres, closely followed by Freya Bythell for the same offence.
A Leeds player was also put in the sin bin for a bad stick tackle, joined by a team mate who received a yellow card for physicality.
A further card for obstruction then saw Olivia Bythell sidelined for two minutes, but Forest were holding on, and disciplined tracking back by Olivia Purtill down the right wing helped keep Leeds at bay.
A good late spell by Leeds meant Forest had to stand firm in the D.
Strong tackles by player of the match Jan Cormack helped to thwart any late opportunities, and with a sigh of relief Forest came away with a 1-0 win.
On Saturday, Forest play at bottom side Neston.
Pendle Forest seconds went down 2-1 at Garstang on Saturday.
From the whistle Pendle pressed, dominating play through midfield from Ali de Curtis and Mawgan Naylor to the forward line.
Chances were created during the first 10 minutes but Pendle failed to capitalise.
On a rare trip into the Forest half, Garstang were allowed to press into the D and along the backline, and, against the run of play, scored the opener off the back of keeper Jayne Kirkpatrick’s kicker.
Pendle again began to press, and player of the match Rebecca Whitham’s accurate and well-weighted pass found Zoe Kidney, who drove down the line and crossed into the D.
Cathy Killgallon left the ball for Judith Hind, who swept it goalwards to level the score.
Pendle dominated the remainder of the half and were more than unfortunate not to receive an attacking foul on the edge of the defensive area, only to give away a penalty corner on the stroke of half-time.
Naylor closed the ball and player down, only to see it deflect skyward and loop over the whole defensive line into the goal.
A lively second half, with Pendle controlling play and showing great effort, was not rewarded with any goals, leave the travelling team downhearted from such a strong show, in a second loss of the season.