Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies pull eight points clear at the summit
Red-hot Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI opened up an eight-point lead at the Yorkshire Yorkshire & North East Premier Division summit courtesy of a comprehensive win over Newcastle University.
Saturday’s fixture at a freezing Ainsty Road saw the league’s top-two go head-to-head, but Lucy Wood’s unbeaten side proved far too good for their nearest rivals, easing to a 7-1 success.
‘Gate dominated from the start, with the students unable to cope with their hosts’ pressing game and some strong tackling.
The opening quarter of an hour did however pass without the home team making a breakthrough as Newcastle managed to survive three goal-mouth scrambles.
But, once skipper Wood started and finished a move with a powerful strike form the edge of the circle, the floodgates opened. Holly Oldham fired in on the reverse after good work by Julia Coleminas before Rosie Dale made it 3-0 at half-time following a mazy Wood dribble.
In recent games, Harrogate have eased off in the second period after establishing a commanding lead, though they maintained the pressure on this occasion, producing their best and most free-flowing hockey of the season to date.
Jaclyn Smith placed the ball into the corner to stretch the gap to four, Emily Hilton crashed in number five after great work by Becky Sagar and Oldham, then Coleminas squeezed in ‘Gate’s sixth at the near post.
It was left to leading scorer Oldham to wrap things up, volleying in her 26th of the season .
Newcastle rarely threatened, with Helen Goacher in commanding form at the back, but the students did grab a late consolation from a short-corner.
Player-of-the-match Wood reflected: “ We saved our best performance for the best opposition, putting into practice some of the training-ground moves we’ve worked on with our coach Lewis Butcher.
“He’s really helped us take our game to the next level.”
Harrogate Ladies 2s served up a fine team performance as they beat derby rivals Ben Rhydding 5-1 away from home.
The visitors dominated the game from the start with the returning Katy Blyth and Laura Stone in fine form.
Freya Wilde opened the scoring before Blyth finished off a sweeping move involving Wilde, Stone and Steph Hopkins.
Leading 2-0 at the break, ‘Gate required a fine double-save from captain Sarah Jones to prevent Ben Rhydding pulling one back and it wasn’t long before Stoned added a third.
Two further goals followed in quick succession with first Hopkins and then Stone slamming home before the hosts reduced the deficit late on.