Hat-trick hero Hartley gets Forest's season off to the best possible start
Pendle Forest's opening clash of the new season after their promotion to the North Premier Division ended with a 5-0 win against relegated National League side Liverpool Sefton.
Despite there being apprehension in the air, Forest pressed strongly in the opening minutes of the match.
Liverpool fought their way back into the game but could only get as far as the defensive line.
After a tense first half with Forest having the better of the chances, the message came from the sideline to stay solid for the final five minutes.
However, the Forest forward line had other ideas, scoring three times in four minutes.
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Firstly, Charlotte Hartley made a run on the edge of the D and although tightly marked she still managed to get the reverse shot away finding the bottom right corner.
Two minutes later, Hartley was pressurising their goalkeeper once more. The ball bounced off the keeper’s pads and fell to Freya Bythell who teed-up Thea Cormack to fire home for the second goal.
With only minutes to spare before the half-time whistle, Hartley poached the ball from the opposition. She then glided past a defender and fired it across goal and into the net.
Although Forest were pleasantly surprised at being 3-0 up at half-time, their defensive tackling particularly by Dani Hornby along with the team’s work rate meant they were deservedly on top.
They were firing on all cylinders and were ready to take this into the second half.
Continuous effort in midfield earned Liv Bythell player of the match for breaking down play.
This helped Forest control their lead and allowed them to capitalise after 15 minutes when Freya Bythell intercepted a hit out and quickly released the pass to Hartley.
She took two defenders on, drove around the goalkeeper and swept it in over the line.
The goals kept coming and Hartley then managed to pull the ball back from the back line into the goalmouth for Cormack to make no mistake in putting Forest 5-0 ahead.
A late attack by Liverpoolpool momentarily caught the Forest defence out but sprinting into action, Laura Kendall made a diving save to maintain a clean sheet on Forest’s Premier League debut.
An excellent team performance in all areas puts Forest at the top of the league with a 5-0 goal tally.
Tomorrow, Pendle Forest firsts are at Marsden Heights for an 11.30am push back against Whitley Bay.
l The third team started their season with a visit at home from Windermere.
The first half saw both team put significant pressure on the back lines. One counter attack led to Windermere’s first goal when a young attacker broke free and despite the best efforts of Beccy Bell the ball was sent trickling through the legs of keeper Jane Lofthouse.
Forest came back determined and equalised when Charlotte O’Brien played the ball to Emma Ziegloser, who managed to put the ball past the goalkeeper.
Youngster Lois Page thenmade a quick dash down the wing to the backline and crossed the ball into the top of the D for Emma Ziegloser to have a shot on goal which was saved.
Shortly before the half time whistle a short corner opportunity allowed Windermere to make it 2-1
A rousing half-time team talk saw Forest pepper the Windermere goal but they were unable to find the breakthrough.
Chance after chance went begging as the game finished 2-1 to Windermere.
The man-of-the-match award goes to keeper Jane Lofthouse for some outstanding saves.