'˜Gate Ladies hold high-flying Forest to a draw on home turf
Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1s produced a fine display as they held North Division One leaders Pendle Forest to a 1-1 draw.
The unbeaten title favourites had won 16 of their previous 17 league fixtures before Saturday’s trip to Ainsty Road, including a 5-0 demolition of ‘Gate when they last met back in November.
With their previous meeting in mind, Rachel Till’s side changed their formation, switching to four at the back.
Cecilia Allen returned to the side, lining up in a new-look defence and vindicating her selection with a superb performance.
‘Gate found the going tough, but they remained resolute and there were no goals in the first half.
Forest’s skilful forwards caused their hosts plenty of problems and they forced a number of short-corners but were kept at bay by a solid defensive effort.
The game remained goalless until the visitors finally broke through from a short-corner with 10 minutes remaining.
Not to be denied, ‘Gate hit back immediately with a goal from striker Shelly Harrison, who received the ball facing away from goal and smashed an effort into the bottom corner on the turn.
The hosts went on to creat a couple of chances to win the game in the last five minutes, but just failed to capitalise and the match ended all-square.
Harrogate Ladies 2s made the long journey to Brigg looking for another three points to help cement a top four finish in the Yorkshire Premier Division.
There were a couple of clear openings in front of goal for ‘Gate early on, but they weren’t able to find the all-important finishing touch to beat the Brigg custodian.
The visitors did win a couple of penalty-corners thanks to the determination of the returning Sian Simpson, but weren’t able to convert these chances either.
As the half carried on, Brigg grew in confidence and they started to put pressure on the Harrogate defence.
Their best chance came when one of their forwards used her pace and skill to get in behind the away defence and was left with just Maddy Boocock to beat, but the goalkeeper pulled off a fantastic save.
In the second period, Brigg changed their formation and this saw them enjoy more possession, leaving ‘Gate pinned in their own half for long periods of time.
Player of the match Jenny Allen put in a number of key tackles in and around the circle to deny Brigg chances at goal, and when they did manage to get shots off, Boocock was on had to make a number of key saves.
This pressure meant that ‘Gate had to rely on long balls up to their forwards as they attempted to get back on the front foot.
Brigg did however open the scoring from a penalty-corner which was retaken due to a visiting defender breaking the line early.
Harrogate tried hard to get back on terms and thought they had done so when Ali Wales’ lifted shot hit the post, but they weren’t able to force the rebound over the line.
The away team battled hard for an equaliser, but despite plenty of possession in and around the Brigg circle they weren’t able to find a way back into the contest.
The 3rd XI played out a goalless draw at home to Leeds 3s.
In what was a hard-fought encounter, both sides had opportunities but neither were able to convert any of them.
‘Gate’s defence performed well throughout and goalkeeper Jules Halford pulled off some spectacular saves.
New addition Nina Richmond played superbly, earning her the player of the match award, while the home midfield worked tirelessly.
From a short-corner injected at pace by Claire Turner, Em Adshead drew the Leeds defence and slipped the ball to Sarah Parker-Walton who shot at goal, only to be denied by the visiting keeper.
With the Leeds stopper floored, Parker under-cut the loose ball over her and towards goal, but a defender made a stunning double-block on the line to ensure that the game ended 0-0.