It’s even at Stephens

Under pressure: Garstang's Donna Richardson puts in a quality tackle
Under pressure: Garstang's Donna Richardson puts in a quality tackle

North Hockey Women’s League Division Two North West

Kirkby Stephen 1 Garstang 1

Garstang Ladies Hockey Club held highly-rated and established Kirkby Stephen (KS) to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

The game started with both teams playing at a furious pace; the play flowed back and forth with strong attacks being held by strong defences.

Attempts to hit through the line proved nugatory as the stopping skills of both teams were excellent on a dead pitch.

In Garstang’s goal Sarah Skelton (SJ) made the first of a series of excellent saves in a first class performance and after the match was identified by the KS coach as ‘probably the best keeper in the Division.’

After 12 minutes Garstang made a series of potent looking attacks with Fran Summers, Josie Rice, Di Roe and others linking up beautifully but just not quite delivering in the face of a couple of superb KS defenders.

A minute later KS were unlucky when the umpire blew prematurely for a penalty corner just before they scored.

Soon after, Garstang just failed to score from a series of three penalty corners with great pressure being put on the KS defence.

After 23 minutes Garstang won a penalty corner and had it reversed when Debbie Huyton left the pitch for treatment for an injury – without substitution.

Rulebooks fluttered but fortunately no real damage was done. With 30 minutes gone SJ made a superb save in the Garstang goal just before the break Garstang failed to convert from a penalty corner, with the sides going in all square..

At the start of the second half Garstang made their usual weak start and a brilliant save by SJ steadied the ship.

The visitors’ midfield went in to their habitual second half resurgence and Jude Chapman made an excellent interception run, and pass to Fran Summers who managed to get round the KS keeper to open the scoring.

Later Jude made an absolutely wonderful stop from a very hard hit ball and dispatched the forwards on another attack.

The younger players, Di Roe and Lily Helme were more than matching the pace of their opponents and received good support from Josie Rice, Lyndsey Hayes, Debbie Huyton and Wendy Howarth with Nicky Oddie and Donna Richardson surging forward from defence.

Fran Summers looked the quality forward she is and was always a potent threat. Lindsay Norton and Midge Bury were consistently in the right place at the right time at the head of the Dee with Midge’s hitting power giving KS pause for thought.

Up front Di Roe was having great fun running at the KS defence and just failed to score when the KS keeper scrambled the ball off the line and cleared well.

After 12 minutes SJ came storming out of the Garstang goal to make a first class smother save and the ball was cleared. An attacking KS forward went down injured in the Dee so Garstang put the ball out of play.

The umpires called for a bully and the KS forward won it and drove into the ‘D’ despite a request from her teammates to pass it back to Garstang. KS scored to take the score to one all.

In the last five minutes KS won three penalty corners including one at time but the ball was cleared with little danger by Garstang.

Next week Garstang play old foes Lytham at home.