Leyland & Chorley’s cup joy...and heartbreak

Raelene Strickland was on target for Leyland and Chorley ladies 1sts

Raelene Strickland was on target for Leyland and Chorley ladies 1sts

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It was a weekend of mixed emotions for Leyland and Chorley Hockey Club ladies 1sts as they progressed to the final of the Caley Cup on Saturday.

But they also suffered heartbreak as they were knocked out of the England Hockey Vase on Sunday.

L&C edged past Southport 1-0 in the Caley Cup semi-final.

The Reds started off the more positive team but they squandered several early chances and breaking down the Southport defence was proving difficult.

Raelene Strickland struck the post with a reverse-stick shot, and it was looking like a goal would be difficult to find.

Southport pushed up, had several short corners, and were a match for L&C going forward, but the first half finished goalless.

After the break, Leyland started with a change of formation, adding an extra forward to try and get a win.

The second half started much the same as the first had been – both teams were pushing forward, and both had chances to get that important first goal.

The change of formation meant that L&C had more freedom up front to try and break down Southport.

Jo Hindley, Marie Meagher and Nicola Wallbank bossed the midfield, and eventually the pressure on Southport told.

Leyland won a short corner, Eluned Smith fed Meagher, who slipped the ball into the D to Strickland, and she hit a fierce shot straight into the corner of the Southport net.

Wallbank was yellow carded and spent five minutes on the sidelines, and the pressure was very much on L&C for the final 10 minutes, with Southport pushing everyone forward.

Kirstie Taylor made some spectacular blocks to help keep L&C’s narrow lead, and the defence remained calm under the pressure as they held on to bag a place in the final.

The Reds will now face Clitheroe and Blackburn Northern Ladies’ 2nds in the final in April.

On Sunday, Leyland and Chorley ladies faced Isle of Man side LJ Ramsey at Liverpool in the England Hockey Vase, and suffered a last-gasp defeat.

L&C started confidently but LJ took the lead against the run of play in the fifth minute.

LJ Ramsey then started to push forward in numbers but Leyland levelled in the 25th minute from a penalty corner.

Smith pushed out and got the return pass from Sarah Winstanley, with Sarah King scoring from the rebound.

The second half started with a similar story, with L&C just missing their chances, and LJ Ramsey scoring on the counter-attack to make it 2-1.

Some good defensive work from Smith, Wallbank, Hindley and a double save by keeper Alison Clewlow kept Leyland in the game.

With 15 minutes to go, Wallbank won a penalty corner and Winstanley equalised with a straight strike.

L&C had to dig deep in the last 10 minutes, with LJ Ramsey piling on the pressure.

They won seven penalty corners in a row, with Caroline Grey-Bullen and Taylor saving two off the line.

But as the whistle went for full time, L&C’s hearts were broken as LJ scored the winner with the last hit of the match to clinch a 3-2 victory and a place in the third round of the England Hockey Vase.

L&C ladies 2nds clinched promotion last week but did not have a game on Saturday.