L&C whirlwind blows Port away

Hat-trick hero: Raelene Strickland on the attack for Leyland and Chorley
Hat-trick hero: Raelene Strickland on the attack for Leyland and Chorley
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Unbeaten Leyland and Chorley Hockey Club ladies 1st XI started 2014 by thrashing Southport 2nds 10-0 at home.

Leyland were 6-0 up after just 18 minutes in a blockbuster first half that saw the league leaders demolish their visitors.

L&C are five points clear at the top of the league and they asserted their dominance by winning a penalty corner in the opening minute.

The straight strike from Sarah Maycock was saved by the Southport keeper and, from the subsequent long corner, Leyland took the lead.

The set-piece was quickly taken and sent into the D where Raelene Strickland latched on to the ball and slammed it into the back of the net.

In the fourth minute, Leyland won their second penalty corner.

After another good save from the Southport keeper and some further play around the D, Becca Halsall dispatched an excellent strike into the 

Jess Frith – in consistently excellent form – made some brilliant runs down the right-hand side, working incredibly well with captain Sarah King to control that part of the pitch.

And when Southport did get a break, the defence of Joanne Heald and Gail Arthur swiftly dealt with the threat.

Six minutes in, another penalty corner was awarded following a foul on Maycock.

The ball was slipped to Strickland and her strike rebounded to player of the match Nicola Wallbank, who netted the third goal with a strong push past the keeper.

Leyland and Chorley are clinical in front of goal and it was not long before they added a fourth.

Strickland netted her second 11 minutes in, after support from captain Sarah King.

That was swiftly followed a minute later by a screamer into the top right of the net by Halsall to make it five. Halsall continued to be a major threat for Leyland and it was her lifted slip to Maycock that created another goal to give the Reds an unassailable 6-0 lead after just 18 minutes.

After further penalty corners were conceded but not converted, Leyland and Chorley made use of every opportunity in open play to score.

Paula Thornton netted her first goal for the hosts and celebrated in style.

The first half ended 8-0 after a Firth drive released Maycock who made no mistake in front of goal.

Marie Meagher made her mark on the game with a fantastic strike from the top of the D just three minutes after the interval.

But Southport came back with renewed determination and took advantage of some loss of concentration by L&C to make confident attacks on the D.

Keeper Alison Clewlow was called into action for the first time in the match, after unexpectedly finding herself two-on-one with the Southport strikers.

Clewlow – who has only conceded two goals all season – showed her class, running out at the Southport attackers and making a right-footed save, clearing the ball out of the danger zone.

Strickland secured her hat-trick and a double 
figure victory latching on to another fantastic slip into the D by Frith.

Top-of-the-league Leyland and Chorley have now moved their impressive goalscoring tally on to 60 goals in nine games this season.

Meanwhile, Leyland and Chorley ladies 2nds beat Lancaster 5ths 2-0 away from home.