North Hockey Women’s League Division Two North West
Lytham St Annes 1
Garstang faced their old Lancashire Premier Division rivals, Lytham and both newly-promoted sides were eager to stamp their authority on the match and prove they belong in this higher division.
Garstang started the game promisingly, dominating play and testing Lytham’s defence.
Lily Helme displayed her pace on numerous occasions and ran rings round Lytham’s backline, linking up with the Garstang midfield and forwards and forcing the Lytham keeper to make a series of saves early on in the match.
Throughout the first half, Garstang played the better hockey and the Lytham youngsters were noticeably riled, yet the home side struggled to be clinical in the final quarter of the pitch and failed cement their domination with a goal.
Tensions were always going to be high in a local derby, but Garstang, under the guise of supremely cool captain Lindsay Norton, let the away side get worked up and eventually one of their most experienced players ‘lost it’ which resulted in her being sent off the pitch for ten minutes.
Keen to make the most of this numerical advantage, Garstang surged forward using the young legs of Diane Roe and the intricate stick skills of Jude Chapman, but, once again, failed to make the attack count.
This enabled Lytham to break down the right hand side of the pitch and put the ball in the back of the net, despite protestations that Josie Rice was purposely obstructed.
Lytham came out in the second half keen to build on their lead, and put Garstang under a lot of pressure.
The home side were under the cosh for much of the rest of the match, and were forced to really dig deep. Keeper SJ Skelton pulled off several high-quality saves, and ever-reliable Donna Richardson calmly stopped a ball on the line.
Garstang did manage to launch some counter attacks, with Wendy Howarth expertly holding the ball up in the final quarter and Debs Huyton sending a couple of lovely balls into the ‘D’, however Garstang still failed to find the back of the net, even after a routine short corner attempt by Lyndsey Hayes was saved by the Lytham keeper.
With the clock running down, it seemed that Garstang were to come away empty handed for the first time this season.
However, the team fought until the very end. A slick and flowing move started at the back with Midge Bury, who played a long ball up to Debs Huyton on the right. Huyton spotted Josie Rice’s run into the ‘D’ and played a perfectly weighted ball for Rice to run down to the baseline and drew the defence to hook up for Fran Summers, in front of the keeper, who skilfully reverse flicked the ball into the back of the net. That duly rewarded Garstang with a well-deserved draw and ultimately a point.
A draw was a fair result in the end for both sides, and Garstang really should take credit for their characteristically fighting spirit, especially after Lytham came out after half time expecting to fire in more goals.