Garstang ladies’ wounded warriors stormed to a 1-0 victory over Springfields 2nds.
Garstang’s injury hit squad is on the mend and the clinical Fran Summers rifled home the only goal of the day to keep the Reds’ North Hockey Women’s League Division 2 North West title hunt on course as they retained second spot in the table.
Garstang started playing good quality high paced passing hockey and continued to do so throughout the game.
The unsteadiness in the centre was gone with Jude Chapman in fine fettle and Josie Rice back at near her best.
Despite Garstang’s dominance it was Springs who won the first penalty corner after a Garstang foot blocked the ball in the D.
A quick Jen Moss clearance led to a storming attack run by a now fit Christy Martin whose quality showed.
Springs came back and won their second penalty corner and some well coached switching of the ball forced a good foot save from Sarah Skelton in the Garstang goal.
Martin was now in full flight and in the 19th minute a cross shot was superbly saved by the Springs Keeper at full stretch.
A sustained period of pressure from Garstang led to three penalty corners.
Lyndsey Hayes was constantly at the post for the corners but the ball never quite fizzed her way.
In the 34th minute a Rebecca Worthington attack led to another penalty corner and a strong Summers drag flick sailed over the goal to end the half.
The second half opened as the first with Garstang dominating possession and Di Roe and Summers upped their attacking efforts.
In the fifth minute Garstang broke the deadlock.
Roe made a great solo run down the wing, cut along the back line to feed Martin who put the ball across the goal to Summers on the left post who made no mistake.
Roe was now at full pace and she bagged a penalty corner but her neat deflection just whizzed wide.
Frustrated by several unpunished body blocks Roe smacked a Springs player’s stick away in the D.
She was shown a card and Garstang were reduced to 10 for a short time as she was forced off to miss a period of the game by the umpire.
In the 20th minute of the second half Summers nearly made it two as her shot across goal just missed the target and moments later Roe’s shot just flew outside the left post.
Garstang won a penalty corner and Alice Matthews made a superb interception of the Springs clearance and converted it into a good reverse stick shot that crashed into the post.
Five minutes later a super Matthews pass to Worthington and strike in the D was nearly diverted home by Roe’s deflection.
With minutes to go Garstang won yet another penalty corner and a strong shot from Matthews was deflected away by the keeper.
In the last minute Springs won a corner but a pad save clear by keeper Skelton kept the ball out for Garstang.
They were deserved winners on the basis of dominant possession and at least seven near misses on goal in comparison to the one or two Springs efforts.
Roe was voted player-of-the-match for her performance.
Table toppers Leyland and Chorley ladies 2nds beat Garstang ladies 3rds 3-1 at home.
The unbeaten Reds increased their lead at the top of the Lancashire Central Women’s Hockey League Division Three to 12 points with a hard-fought victory over their third-placed title rivals.
Leyland started brightly, but in the 13th minute they unfortunately lost forward Vicki Pilkington to injury.
L&C applied pressure on Garstang and carved out multiple goalscoring opportunities, but Garstang’s defence held firm. The Reds finally took a deserved lead in the 20th minute after a great passing move up the pitch between Lauren Pickup, Lisa Evans, Hayley Billington, Michelle Alty and Rachel Wylie fed Anna Jones to fire home.
L&C made it two 10 minutes later from a short corner routine, as Ali Rigby teed-up Penny Robb to smash the ball past the keeper.
The second half began with a Garstang push back but L&C made it three just four minutes into the second half.
L&C won another short corner and Robb drilled in her second of the game.
The Reds nearly made it four in the 56th minute from another short corner. L&C switched up their routine as Rigby fizzed the ball out to Alty, who set up Robb.
Robb’s strike rebounded back to Rigby, but she could not squeeze the ball home. In the 61st minute, Garstang pulled a goal back from a short corner. L&C did not stop pressing, as the game wore on, to bag all three points and maintain their unbeaten record.
L&C ladies 1sts drew 1-1 at Southport ladies 1sts, while the men’s 1st team lost 4-2 at Golborne men’s 1sts and L&C men’s 2nds beat Preston Men’s 4ths 2-1.
And L&C men’s 3rds recent good form continued as they beat Blackpool 3rds 3-1.
The team set up in an attacking formation and were unlucky to go a goal down midway through the first half, when Blackpool launched their first effective attack.
However, parity was restored five minutes later when Rhys Hilton’s left wing attack and cross eventually fell to Adrian Thornton at the edge of the D who fired home.
Blackpool played better in the second half, but L&C’s strong midfield of Simon Gray and Steve Smith kept the visitors’ attackers at bay, and it was Thornton who scored next, putting the home side into the lead with a deflected shot that sailed over the keeper.
The final 15 minutes saw an intense period of Blackpool attacking, as they managed to push L&C further back.
Only woeful Blackpool finishing and some fine saves from Tim Sullivan maintained L&C’s lead, and it was with some relief when Gray ran at the Blackpool defence and scored an excellent goal with only minutes remaining.