Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies re-claim top spot after Wilmslow success
Unbeaten Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1s re-claimed top spot in North Division One following a comfortable victory over Wilmslow.
The Ainsty Road outfit dropped down to second place on goal-difference following their draw with Bowdon last time out, but Saturday’s 2-0 success took them back above title rivals Lytham St Annes.
Laura Beardsmore’s team got on top early in the first half and never looked troubled, with goalkeeper Sarah Jones not even having to take a touch of the ball throughout the entire match.
The first ‘Gate goal saw the ball worked nicely from defence and into midfield where Anna Blythe advanced, forcing the opposition back-line into retreat before coolly crossing for Sarah Proctor, who slid in to finish in some style.
In the second period, Harrogate enjoyed even more control, asking lots of questions of the Wilmslow defence.
They doubled their lead after Charlotte Crossman drove into the circle from a free hit, finding the ever-ready Proctor in front of goal.
The latter then got off a strike that Jaclyn Smith diverted between the advancing goalkeeper’s legs, making it 2-0 .
“Wilmslow are a well-organised team, but the skill and experience in our team, plus our growing confidence was too much for them today,” skipper Beardsmore reflected.
“We’re looking forwards to continuing the undefeated streak next week away at Stokesley.”
Harrogate Ladies 2s returned from their trip to Halifax with a hard-earned point following a closely-fought, high scoring encounter.
The visitors found themselves 2-0 down inside the first quarter of an hour before waking up and going on to dominate the rest of the opening half, Sam Swenson and Emma Waud running riot up front.
Both went close on several occasions before Swenson tucked away her first goal of the game following a mazy run, settling the ‘Gate nerves slightly as the half-time whistle approached.
At the start of the second period, it was all Harrogate and player of the match Swenson came closest to levelling matters, rattling the post with the home keeper well beaten.
Halifax slowly came back into the game and Lily Sowary in the Harrogate goal demonstrated good awareness on several occasions before the hosts managed to sneak a third goal.
The ‘Gate girls showed enormous resolve, however, and continued to push forwards, ably let by captain Kathryn Patchett.
Swenson provided further hope by making it 3-2, then, and in the dying minutes of the match, she somehow squeezed the ball home for a third time to ensure that her side took a well-deserved share of the spoils.
In the North Premier Division, Harrogate Men’s 1s suffered their third loss in eight outings since promotion from Division One, going down 6-3 at Lindum.
After a competitive opening quarter, a defensive error let the home team in and they clinically took full advantage.
Chaz Edmondson was then wiped out in the ‘D’ as he was about to restore parity and the resulting penalty-stroke was put away by Alfie Weaver.
Lindum nudged ahead again but ‘Gate levelled through Weaver’s second before a controversial short-corner was awarded, to the surprise of everyone, and dispatched by the home side.
The hosts made a bright start to the second half and scored two early goals, leaving Harrogate with a mountain to climb.
A sixth Lindum strike then arrived before Edmondson bagged a late consolation.
Harrogate responded well but toiled in terms of creativity after Lindum slotted in the host’s sixth. Edmondson reduced the arrears in the final moment but was merely a consolation.
"Of course a result like this is difficult to take, but we do have to praise Lindum," captain Tom Harris reflected.
"They worked hard right from the start and played with a real intensity and we struggled to cope with them in the opening minutes of the second half.
"The goals we conceded were not great goals and we don't get the same chances that the opposition were presented with by us.
"We’ll look to put that right this Saturday versus Leeds.”