Pendle Forest suffered their first defeat of the season as they went down 1-0 at Alderley Edge.
Playing Alderley Edge away has always proved a difficult task for Forest, and so it proved again.
The opposition were well set-up and tested Forest in the first quarter, getting several shots away on goal.
They found their breakthrough when a mis-trapped ball was pounced upon, and a shot parried away by the Pendle Forest keeper Laura Kendall just managed to sneak in at the far post.
Forest were struggling to get out of their half until an Alderley Edge player was green carded for a stick tackle.
They tried to press on further, but couldn’t capitalise in this time, allowing Alderley Edge to get back up to strength.
Forest improved as the game progressed, despite cynical play by the opposition.
Player of the match Olivia Bythell showed energy and drive, making long runs, drawing in players and earning penalty corners.
The Forest forwards began to press the Alderley Edge defence, and a sharp pass by Fran Ratcliffe saw Steph Bedford slide in to try and convert, then a drag flick by Lisa Crewe just cleared the cross bar.
Freya Bythell was then sidelined for two minutes, but Forest weathered the storm.
Going into the last quarter, Forest changed formation, and for a while it worked, finding Meg Matthews, Bedford and Ratcliffe on the forward line, but the Alderley Edge defence held firm.
And although Kendall was only required to make one save in the second half, the threat from the opposition was always there.
Tomorrow, Forest entertain Cannock, with an 11-30 a.m. start.
Pendle Forest seconds were also beaten at a youthful Southport team.
Going two goals down in five minutes was not on the agenda.
Both goals came from long balls straight to an unmarked forward in Pendle’s defensive quarter.
Pendle settled for the last 20 minutes of the half and began to dominate, stringing passes and through balls from defence and midfield to the forward line.
Gaining fouls in the D, Pendle again failed to convert their penalty corners.
Southport’s third came from a fast break from a Pendle penalty corner.
Mirroring the first two goals, the ball was cleared to the half way line.
Keeper Jayne Kirkpatrick was unlucky not to save, as the ball clipped off her kicker, looping into the goal.
A hit out from Janet Mitchell-Stanworth found Zoe Kidney on the right wing. Driving down the line Kidney slipped to Karen Wignall, who drove diagonally to the D, squaring the ball to Judith Hind, who confidently took the ball in her stride and hit it into the goal to make it 3-1 at half-time.
In the second half, Pendle again dominated possession, but again against the run of play, Southport gained a fourth. Pendle’s spirit never waned, but they were unable to capitalise on their opportunities.
Pendle’s third team rounded off a day of frustration with another narrow defeat at home to Garstang’s seconds.
A long ball from Garstang was misjudged by Dee McInnes, and her younger counter part collected well and shot at goal, wrong footing Jane Lofthouse to open the scoring.
Garstang made it 2-0 with a strong hit from the edge of the D.
Pendle pulled one back when, from a penalty corner, Cath Hutchinson hit out to Becky Bell, who slipped back to Hutchinson, and from four metres out, she made no mistake.