Player of the match Crewe strikes at the double as Pendle Forest go eight clear

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Pendle Forest won 3-0 at the University of Durham on Saturday to reach the halfway point of the North Hockey Women’s League Premier Division season unbeaten and eight points clear at the top.

Forest travelled up to Durham in the atrocious weekend weather.

The University side played at pace and stretched Forest in the early minutes of the game.

Play seemed to be held in the middle section of the pitch for a while, but Forest found their footing and managed to breakthrough the congestion on several occasions, without being able to find the finish.

An opening finally came when Freya Bythell passed the ball from midfield through to Charlotte Hartley, who veered left, taking on two defenders, and laid the ball square to Lisa Crewe.

Unmarked, Crewe converted with ease, hitting the backboard and putting Forest ahead.

Player of the match Crewe was also in action at the defending end, making two important block saves at penalty corners.

Goalkeerper Laura Kendall also had to make a diving save to, crucially, just steer the ball to the right of the post with her stick.

Crewe doubled Forest’s advantage when she scored a penalty corner of her home, taking her time before sweeping the ball into the bottom right corner.

Durham came back into the pitch in the second half full of energy, making rolling position changes up front, challenging Forest’s defensive structure.

They cut into the D several times, but made no real impact on goal.

Forest replied, ploughing down the wings trying to find the outlet up front, and were almost through on several occasions, with some quick stick work by Steph Bedford and Hartley, but the Durham keeper was vigilant and the forwards were denied until the last play of the game!

A ball came down the right from Crewe, finding Hartley, who charged it along the backline, pulling it back on the diagonal for Thea Cormack to sweep it in on the move.

It hit the inside of the post and went in, giving Forest the 3-0 win.

Tomorrow they are at home to second placed Doncaster, starting at the later time of 1-15 p.m.

The seconds wete also in action against Lancaster seconds.

After narrowly losing 2-1 in the first game of the season, Pendle knew they had it in them to beat their rivals in the turnaround match.

Starting strong, Pendle pressed high, moving the ball confidently from midfield down both channels, the Lancaster defence under pressure from whistle, the keeper keeping them in the game.

Three successive penalty corners nearly resulted in the opening goal, Pendle coming closest from a clearance by Sarah Towers to Ali de Curtis in midfield, and a well-placed pass to Francesca Ratcliffe, with Cathy Killgallon supporting on the overlap, struck the ball to Zoe Kidney in the D, firing just past the post.

All square at half-time, Pendle continued to put pressure on visitors, and overlapping runs and use of pass and move play showed Pendle to be the dominant team,

Amy Tricket and Fiona Head on the left and Harriet Ashworth on the right produced excellent tackles to limit Lancaster’s drives forward.

Ten minutes before the final whistle saw Pendle rewarded with another penalty corner. Ashworth injected to de Curtis, who slipped left to Kilgallon. The initial strike rebounded from the post player’s stick, and after a scramble, the ball came to Hutchinson who calmly lifted the ball into the far corner over the prostrate keeper to claim a well-earned victory.