High five for Pendle Forest as they hit new Heights with unbeaten home record
Having once embarked on a phenomenal 87-game unbeaten run - which stretched across a four-year period - Pendle Forest have a proud new record to uphold.
The club, which competes in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Conference North, are now unbeaten at home in five years.
Forest protected that impressive feat with a 5-2 win against Doncaster at Marsden Heights Community College at the weekend.
After a quiet opening quarter, the hosts started to stretch the play and almost went ahead when Charlotte Hartley’s delivery was just out of reach of Steph Bedford.
Doncaster forced some activity in the home team’s goal area, but key interventions, and cool heads, particularly from defender Olivia Purtil, limited the threat.
After a goalless first half the visitors were awarded a penalty corner, which Ellie O’Neill converted with a cleanly taken drag flick in the 38th minute.
However, Forest took the ball straight to the opposite end of the pitch and Olivia Bythell gained a penalty corner.
That allowed Lisa Crewe to hammer home her sixth of the season to draw the hosts level within a minute.
Forest, third in the table and just a point shy of Sutton Coldfield, began to move through the gears and Hartley put them 2-1 up when sliding the ball past Taryn Allen having been picked out by Olivia Bythell.
With the away side looking physically fatigued, Hartley exploited their high defensive line when collecting possession on the halfway line, showing her markers a clean set of heels and beating Allen with a reverse stick shot in the 56th minute.
The game started to become a feisty affair, with Bedford and Freya Bythell both grounded, but Forest kept their composure.
Bythell made it 4-1 on the hour after dodging a defender at the top of the D and that cushion paved the way for 16-year-old Alice Charles to make her debut.
The home side netted their fifth and final goal in the 62nd minute when the experienced Hayley Baines received a free hit from the 23m line and she made no mistake with a reverse stick shot.
Daisy Bennett grabbed a consolation for Doncaster from a penalty corner in the 70th minute, but Forest saw the rest of the game out to secure yet another home win.
Elsewhere, just 24 hours after winning 4-2 away at Windermere in the Lancashire Central Women’s League Premier Division, Pendle Forest’s second string stretched their lead at the top of the table.
Buoyed by their success at Lakes School, the hosts capitalised on Lancaster Nomads’ defeat at home to Rossall by seeing off title rivals Lytham St Annes.
The gap at the summit now stands at four points as Forest put four past their opponents at Marsden Heights Community College.
The ferocity of the home side’s press from the first whistle caught Lytham by surprise and they opened the scoring when Karen Wignall deflected Cathy Kilgallon’s drive past a stationary goalkeeper.
Fiona Head, Francesca Ratcliffe and Mawgan Naylor were all involved in the build up to Forest’s second and it was the latter’s through ball that teed Wignall up to slip the ball through the keeper’s legs.
Saturday’s player of the match Janet Mitchell-Stanworth came close to scoring from several penalty corners, but it was Wignall again who, on for a hat trick, was taken out by the keeper as she zeroed in on goal.
Kilgallon stepped up to take the penalty flick and dispatched the ball to the left corner past a demoralised keeper.
Pendle continued to control the rest of the half, but were unable to increase their tally.
The home side came out strong in the second half, dominating possession and cleaving the Lytham defence like a hot knife through butter.
A lapse in concentration allowed Lytham a rare jaunt into the Pendle D. A swing and a miss from Marion Sanderson, when attempting to clear the ball, gave the visitors a penalty corner.
The visitors converted to reduce the deficit, despite Mitchell-Stanworth’s best efforts on the line.
Incensed at not keeping a clean sheet, Pendle surged forward. Ali Gill and Sanderson combined to create Forest’s fourth and it was Naylor’s shot that deflected over the keeper to make it 4-1.