Lytham take the title race down to wire

Blackpool and Wyre Ladies 2nd team Hockey v Pendle Forest 2nd team at Stanley Park. Helen Pearson.
Blackpool and Wyre Ladies 2nd team Hockey v Pendle Forest 2nd team at Stanley Park. Helen Pearson.
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Needing to win their final three matches to have any chance of being crowned Lancashire Central League champions, Lytham Ladies duly completed two thirds of the assignment with a pair of 4-0 victories.

Their weekend premiership double-header started at Garstang, where early pressure resulted in Kate Gledhill setting up the prolific Gemma Trickett for the opener.

Garstang responded strongly but Gemma Holderness and Lorna Leach defended solidly and Trickett doubled the lead from a penalty corner.

Her hat-trick came just before half-time following a great run and cross by Courtney Spector.

Lytham started the second half slowly and it took some outstanding goalkeeping by player of the match Clare Turner to keep Garstang out.

But Lytham finished in style with a last-minute goal by Sophia Crawshay, who won a one on one with the keeper after beating two defenders.

Turner was again in outstanding form in the following day’s rearranged game at home to Lancaster Seconds.

Turner made some top saves and Gemma Holderness defended strongly as Lancaster had the better of the first half chances until Trickett broke the deadlock by getting on the end of Amy Horrocks’ fine run.

Lytham stepped up the pace in the second half and Charlotte Evans’ interception paved the way for Georgina Read to score from a hard strike.

Turner continued to stop everything Lancaster could fire at her and Lytham sealed victory with a second from Read, after Gilly Harrison and Crawshay linked well down the left, and a late goal by the hard-running Crawshay.

Lytham must now beat leaders Springfields in their final match, though their title rivals still have a game in hand.

Lytham Seconds were also 4-0 winners over Preston Thirds.

Needing a victory to climb out of the relegation zone, Lytham withstood early pressure and took the lead through Alix Townsend.

Townsend then helped set up the second, finished by Holly Monterio from Harley Greene’s cross.

Good defending by Rosie Craven, Alex Lor and Hannah Hesketh ensured it remained 2-0 until half-time.

They had to soak up more pressure before Greene added two more goals.

Rachel Casey and Townsend had goals disallowed, with Emily Foster and Katie Warren combining well in midfield.

Lytham Ladies Thirds still face relegation but belied their position with a superb 2-0 win away to Lancaster University’s senior side.

Daisy Bradley and Fran Beeby created chances for Lytham but it remained goalless at half-time, with Rebecca Evans, Mary Aldersley and keeper Jane Evans solid at the back.

Captain Linda Baxter led by example as Lytham gained the upper hand in the second half, Bradley opening the scoring before Beeby sealed a well-earned win with a great strike. Lucy Whalley pushed up well from the back.

n KEEPER Vicky Hives and player of the match Sally Kelly were in top form as Blackpool Ladies kept premiership leaders Springfields at bay throughout the first half at Preston Arena.

But ultimately Blackpool couldn’t do title-chasing Lytham a favour as Springs scored within a minute of the restart and made it 2-0 midway through the half.

Despite the defeat Blackpool played some outstanding hockey, with Christy Martin close to replying on a couple of occasions.

Blackpool Seconds gave their first division survival bid a massive boost with a comfortable 5-0 win at Pendle Forest.

Classy goals by Gemma Prestwich and Kandy Cardwell made it 2-0 at half-time.

Pendle forced the Blackpool defence to hold firm after the restart but then Prestwich’s second and goals from Lyndsey Shewan and Maria Chiczewski sealed the win. Midfielder Amy Partington was player of the match.

Blackpool Thirds lost to a second-half goal at Brookfields in a fast an even game.

Brittney Wiseman was player of the match, with centre forward Emily Copp also outstanding and captain Hannah Bower produced some fine saves.

The winning goal came ten minutes into the second half and Blackpool couldn’t force an equaliser despite plenty of pressure.