Lytham St Annes’ Hockey Club’s senior ladies’ and men’s teams both blew away the Christmas cobwebs in matches at AKS held over from the first half of the season.
LSA ladies faced Longridge in a mid-table match in North Division Two and played out a 2-2 draw.
Lytham were under strict instructions to open the game well, with sensible hockey and strong passing play, and they did just that.
LSA attacked well, with some great early balls down the wings, good progression from defence into midfield and quickly-taken free hits, giving Longridge plenty to worry about.
Lytham created many chances in the D and one long ball in from the left found Jen Rawlinson in a great position. She quickly took a shot from close range, which beat the keeper to give LSA the lead.
They retained this advantage up to half-time with some strong defending from the back four and several spectacular saves from Bryony Brown, as well as a solid stop on the line from defender Sam Read.
Lytham stepped off the gas a little in the second half and allowed Longridge’s skilful mids too much room to drive forward.
A couple of slip-ups gave them two goals and the lead. However, a very positive attitude from Lytham put more pressure on the Longridge defence, with a genuine belief they could score again. The last 10 minutes were all Lytham as they fought for the equaliser.
Following a brilliant driving run from man of the match Amie Knighton, Lytham won a penalty corner in the dying minutes.
A slick one-two at the top of the D gave Georgina Read the opportunity to nail the ball perfectly past the defence to level the score.
Huge cheers from the team and spectators showed how much it meant to Lytham.
This was a first-class LSA performance, with superb attitude and effort from everyone. LSA remain one point behind Longridge .
The men’s first team also draw a thrilling tie, 5-5 against fourth-placed West Derby in North Two West.
It was a performance of highs and lows from Lytham, though the spectators saw plenty of goals, near misses and a red card.
A West Derby goalscorer decided to confront LSA keeper Adam Dixon and was sent off.
Matt Shawcross opened the scoring for LSA, carrying the ball from inside his own half.
He added a second with a drag-flick and was briefly denied a hat-trick when his shot was headed off the line by a defender.
However, Shawcross took the resulting penalty flick himself for his third goal, adding a fourth with a straight strike following a good attacking move through midfield.
That made the score 5-4 only for West Derby to equalise with a penalty flick of their own, though Dixon was a whisker away from pulling off the save.
Lytham almost gave it all away in the dying minutes but Will Stone managed a goal-line save to ensure that his side held on for a valuable point.
Garstang Ladies Hockey Club’s first team ran out 6-0 winners when they hosted Clitheroe and Blackburn in Preston.
After only six minutes Garstang won a penalty corner which saw Lyndsey Hayes find Alice Matthews, who fired across the keeper much to the delight of the Garstang fans.
Garstang piled on the pressure as Hayes made a great through pass to Di Roe.
She took the ball to the back of the ‘D’ and made a neat cross to Kiery Horne on the far post for a simple tap in, making it 2-0 and causing much rejoicing in the Garstang camp.
Roe started to display her high speed runs from the right, showing the fourth team youngsters on the sidelines how to beat defenders.
Another penalty corner for Garstang saw Fran Summers’ high drag flick knocked forward by the Clitheroe keeper.
Jen Moss made some good breaks to the top of the ‘D’ but her crosses would not go to stick before Clitheroe showed their mettle by coming back hard at Garstang.
Garstang were playing some great, quick, passing and flowing hockey but Clitheroe’s powerful forwards looked dangerous on the break and their left defence was strong.
On 20 minutes, Clitheroe won a penalty corner and a good shot was neatly kicked away by Garstang keeper Alanis Parkinson.
The last 10 minutes of the half were evenly balanced, with both the defences clearing well.
Skipper Donna Richardson was her usual dominant self at the top of the Garstang ‘D’, aided and abetted by Lindsay Thornhill.
Richardson made a vital clearance to the side of Parkinson’s pads to avert the most dangerous Clitheroe attack on goal as the half petered out.
Clitheroe started the second half better than Garstang and won a penalty corner after only two minutes.
Parkinson made a stylish save, clearing to the side, and the danger was gone before Garstang gradually worked up some steam.
After six minutes, Gemma Trickett’s surprise high flick from near the top of the ‘D’ made it 3-0.
There were two near misses for Garstang, while Josie Rice came close to another goal with a spectacular, full length, diving deflection.
On 12 minutes, some excellent passing took the ball to Horne, who slotted the ball home neatly to make it 4-0.
Eight minutes later, the Clitheroe keeper made a good save from Horne’s high flick, while Rebecca Worthington made several chances.
Jude Chapman also broke into the ‘D’ but saw her strong, lifted shot hit the keeper before Horne swept in to drill the ball home from close range to complete her hat-trick and make the score 5-0.
With three minutes to go a good Garstang break with multiple passes ended with another spectacular dive from Rice across the penalty spot and Horne neatly steering the ball home for her fourth goal to complete the scoring.