Ladies stake claim to clinch runner-up spot

Garstang's Josie Rice battles for possession
Garstang's Josie Rice battles for possession
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With second place in the Premier League at stake Garstang had to win this one to save their supporters from late season anxiety.

Garstang were playing easily their best hockey of the season with the ball being switched rapidly all over the pitch, and a very strong and capable Lancaster defence were severely tested.

At the back, Nicky Oddie was back on top form after her serious knee injury, while Sarah Skelton (SJ) in the Garstang goal made the first of several good diving saves after eight minutes.

In the centre Josie Rice was having a superb game, and played strongly throughout. It was fitting that she opened the scoring after 13 minutes following a switch across from Fran Summers to Lily Helme, and back to Rice.

After 16 minutes Donna Richardson thwarted a strong Lancaster attack in its tracks, while up front Fran Summers and Lily Helme were attacking frenetically, but were up against a quality defence.

After 23 minutes Di Roe came on to rest Helme, and nearly scored from a beautiful cross. After 31 minutes she was struck across the arm by a defender right in front of goal reaching for the ball, but the umpire did not spot it. Garstang led 1-0 at the break.

After the exhilaration of the first half, Garstang came out for the second half a yard slower, and let Lancaster back in the game.

After three minutes SJ in goal had to be superb when a dangerous bouncing ball needed to be cleared.

A series of penalty corners were wasted with failures to stop the ball at the top of the D. Garstang suddenly went back in to overdrive when Nicky Oddie won the ball at right-back, beat two players, and got it up to Helme who was fouled.

The same player took the free hit very quickly, and suddenly was in the D just failing to score across the keeper with Lyndsey Hayes poised on the far post.

After 19 minutes Garstang won a penalty corner and Summers’s powerful direct shot went home off the Lancaster keeper’s foot, 2–0.

Seven minutes later Summers went on one of her unstoppable runs and just failed to score, having gone past more than five Lancaster players.

With four minutes left after a penalty corner, Hayes characteristically nailed it from close range.