PENDLE Forest Firsts finally returned to action following the long winter break to host a well-drilled Durham side who had beaten them on the opening day of the season.

And in driving rain and a bitter wind, Forest were caught cold as they slipped to a fifth defeat of the season to remain one place off the bottom of Vitality Women’s Conference North.

In the early stages, Durham were finding it difficult to even reach the D on many occasions and it was Forest whose attacking spirit found themselves just shy of grabbing an opening goal with Charlotte Hartley just narrowly going wide of the post.

In the second quarter, it was clear to see that Durham’s tactical plan was to put the ball straight onto a Forest foot in the D, providing themselves with a penalty corner. With the defensive line unsighted, Durham put a neat ball into the right post allowing their post player to ease the ball into the goal.

A player injury for Forest saw substitute Morgan Naylor on at left defence and Sam Parker moved up to midfield. The home side pressed ahead and a mix of runs by Thea Cormack and Alice Charles as well as overhead balls thrown into the D by Freya Bythell, still couldn’t get Pendle Forest past the excellent movement of the Durham goalkeeper.

A bit like the weather, Durham were bullish and physical on the day and despite a barrage of stick tackles from them, it was Forest’s Freya Bythell who was green carded.

In the last minute of the third quarter, Durham were given a penalty corner and after a scramble in front of goal, the ball fell fortunately to one of the visitor’s unmarked players at the back post who tapped in to make it 2-0.

Tireless work by Liv Bethel, Sam Parker and Morgan really didn’t allow much attacking play by Durham in the last quarter, despite a constant rolling on and off of a collection of subs.

They eventually managed to squeeze through on a break and another penalty corner was given and despite a clean save from goalkeeper Freya Bennet there was no opportunity to pick up the rebound which flew into the back of the net. to complete the scoring. Forest have a big game this afternoon when they travel to a Fylde side who are just one place above them in the table.



PENDLE Forest Seconds were back to full strength for the visit of league leaders Lancaster University.

Not repeating the mistakes of previous weeks, Pendle started on the front foot and narrowly missed going ahead in the first few minutes after being awarded a penalty corner, the keeper deflecting the ball away from a waiting Judith Hind on post for a tap in.

Francesca Ratcliffe and Cath Hutchinson were the closest to scoring in the first half with a couple of one-on-ones with the keeper and a contentious disallowed goal from Hutchinson after the umpire blew the whistle early without allowing advantage in front of goal.

The second half proved more of a challenge for Pendle facing the onslaught from the elements rather than the opposition. The wind picked up and heavy rain sapped energy levels giving Lancaster the chance they needed. A penalty corner was given and struck cleanly under a diving Jayne Kirkpatrick to give the visitors the lead against the run of play.

Pendle’s work rate never dropped, pressing high, passing on players and good ownership of space. Emily Dunleavy marked her player out of the game and player-of-the-match, Lehanna Taylor’s effort to cut out a ball down the right that ended in a forward roll off the side of the pitch.

Kirkpatrick made two more decisive saves keeping Pendle in contention but an equaliser wasn’t forthcoming in a match Pendle felt deserved at least a point. The Seconds travel to Kirkby Stephen this afternoon.

n Pendle Forest Thirds will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Longridge following last weekend's 7-0 defeat at Lancaster Seconds.