Unstoppable Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1st XI march on
Unstoppable Harrogate Hockey Club Ladies 1s made it nine wins out of nine to start the season courtesy of a 4-1 triumph over struggling Stokesley.
Lucy Wood's Yorkshire & North East Premier Division table-toppers lined up with a with a much-changed XI and took some time to settle during what was a scrappy first half.
The home side packed their defence in a bid to thwart their high-flying visitors, meaning that 'Gate had to work extremely hard to break them down.
They dominated possession, but their progress was hindered by some imprecise passing and a number unforced errors, while the Stokesley goalkeeper also played her part in frustrating the visiting attackers.
A breakthrough did eventually arrive before the interval and it was skipper Wood who delivered, embarking on a silky dribble that took her past three defenders before she slotted home from a narrow angle.
At the other end, Tilly Hall prevented Stokesley from getting back on terms by clearing off her own goal-line as 'Gate were caught on the break.
The second period began in a similar vein with an increasingly-frustrated Harrogate taking the ball into contact too often or trying to force passes into a congested 'D'.
However, a terrific 10-minute spell followed, Julia Coleminas scoring a powerful drag-flicked short-corner to double the away advantage.
Becky Sagar then found space to smash home from the top of the 'D' for 3-0 before the prolific Holly Oldham bagged her 24th of the season with a reverse-stick effort.
The 'Gate defence was well-marshalled throughout by Kate Froggatt, though Stokesley did nick a late consolation when they converted a short-corner.
Skipper Wood and Froggatt shared the player of the match award, with Saturday's result ensuring that the Ainsty Road outfit remain five points clear at the summit.
Reflecting on the 'Gate performance, midfield dynamo Becky Sagar said: "It’s always a good sign that you can win when not playing well and it shows the strength in depth in our squad.
"But, we will have to lift ourselves next weekend as we play Newcastle University, who are second in the table."
That crunch clash gets underway at Granby Hockey Centre at 2pm.
Meanwhile, profligacy in front of goal cost Harrogate Men's 1s a deserved victory on the road at Newcastle University.
Harry Henderson was the first culprit, firing wide of the target shortly before a home defender stopped his goal-bound effort on the line.
Fergus Lindley and Alfie Willis were also wasteful following extended spells of Harrogate pressure and although the students gradually grew into the contest, goalkeeper Dan Garlick comfortably dealt with everything that was thrown at him.
The visitors again looked the more threatening of the teams after the break with Will Rogers and Andrew Clemerson next to spurn opportunities to open the scoring.
The match pinged from end to end late on, however 'Gate could not make the breakthrough, meaning that the spoils were shared.
Harrogate Men's 1s entertain Sheffield Hallam this Saturday (12.30pm), looking for their first win in November and to improve on their current position of ninth in the Yorkshire & North East Premier Division standings.