Pendle Forest remain unbeaten with point away at league leaders

Pendle Forest close down a Sutton Coldfield player''PICTURES:
Pendle Forest close down a Sutton Coldfield player''PICTURES:

This National League top of the table clash between two sides with 100% records was streamed on Facebook Live and watched as far away as Dubai.

And Pendle Forest earned a clean sheet and a point from their trip to the Midlands to face top of the league Sutton Coldfield.

Liv Bythell closes down the opposition

Liv Bythell closes down the opposition

As expected, the opposition came out with intent, having a good deal of the early play, but Forest who had the first opportunity when Charlotte Hartley drew the keeper but was denied.

Hartley featured again with three very skilful dodges down the right, eliminating three players in succession and sending in a fine cross, but nobody was there to convert.

Having seen out the first quarter, Forest’s confidence grew. Two penalty corners for the hosts were dealt with by captain and player of the match Laura Kendall, making saves with both her pads and kickers.

At the attacking end, Liv Bythell drove the ball to the back line, taking the shot on goal, and it rebounded for another attempt, which narrowly missed the goal.

The introduction of Meg Murphy up front allowed Hartley to play a one-two, putting herself in on goal, but with quick reactions from the keeper, she was again frustrated,

Forest found themselves under huge pressure going into the break when a second green card was dealt to Freya Bythell, and upgraded to a yellow for what was deemed the same offence, a further stick tackle.

The defence dug in, with a solid performance by Sam Parker, and a double defensive tackle by Liv Purtill.

Great interplay by Hayley Baines, Steph Bedford and Hartley then allowed Bedford to draw a save from the keeper, before Bedford slid in on the end of a cross from Hartley, just missing at the right hand post.

The game ebbed and flowed, but excellent defensive work smothered the home forwards.

On the final whistle, Sutton Coldfield earned two penalty corners. Forest were in danger of losing the game in the last breath, but a fabulous disciplined performance allowed them to come away with a well deserved point and agoalless draw against the top of the league.

They have no fixture this weekend, and games resume on November 9th when they play Timperley.

Pendle Forest seconds were back in action at Lancaster seconds.

Within a minute, Pendle got a penalty corner, Ali Gill taking the ball right and slipping to Meg Murphy, who drove down the wing.

A pacy ball into the D saw Francesca Ratcliffe draw the foul. Pendle were unlucky not to capitalise, but, energised by the fast start, continued to press a startled Lancaster.

Against the run of play, Lancaster earned a penalty corner on the half-time whistle. Jane Kirkpatrick cleared the ball and Fiona Head drew a foul to finalise the half.

Pendle started the second half with width and use of an underused left side of Amy Trickett, Lucy Day and Cathy Kilgallon.

This proved to the breakthrough, as, 10 minutes in, Kilgallon fired the ball right, across the D, to Karen Wignall on the back post, her first-time strike hitting the backboard.

This seemed to wake the home team up, and after a penalty corner was stick saved by Kirkpatrick onto Kilgallon’s foot, was upgraded to a flick.

Kirkpatrick dived the right way, but there was no stopping a well-taken flick.

Pendle pressed again and were rewarded as Kilgallon’s swept ball into the D, Ratcliffe deftly deflecting the ball over the keeper with her back to goal to win it and keep Forest top of the league.

l Deb Bythell’s consistent performances have earned her a place in England Hockey’s club dream team of the year, compiled from all the nominations from last season’s teams of the week.