Leyland & Chorley wrap up title in style
Leyland and Chorley ladies 2nds clinched the Lancashire Central Women's Hockey League Division Three championship with a 3-0 win over Southport.
L&C started strongly, with the first push giving them the advantage of pressing hard and pushing the ball into Southport’s D.
Penny Robb had three opportunities early on but smashed all three attempts off target.
Southport made their first break 10 minutes in, bringing Claire Musgrave and Helen Adams quickly into play to mop up the attack.
Debutant Chez Rawcliffe kept her cool and was ready and waiting in goal if any trouble was to arise, but her afternoon passed quietly.
Leyland broke the deadlock in the 14th minute as Paula Thornton drew the defender and sent the ball back to player of the match Alison Rigby, who ran down the pitch and got a shot in.
Southport defended the first shot well, but left a gap for Michelle Alty to slip it into the back of the net.
At this stage Southport were feeling the pressure and were forced to play a defensive game.
Leyland kept finding a way through and sent a number of shots on target but could not beat the keeper.
Southport pushed back hard but the defence was not to be broken.
Vicky Pilkington made it 2-0 21 minutes in as she battled with the keeper and managed to edge the ball into the corner.
With two minutes left in the first half, Southport were awarded their first short corner.
This was to be repeated as a L&C defender was sent back for breaking too early.
LCHC stayed calm and knew they could keep shot-stopper Rawcliffe safe, and they did, clearing it for the half-time whistle to blow.
It was an unusual second half, with Robb adding a third and both teams playing a focused game.
However injuries and falls and were ruling players out one by one.
Lauren Pickup took a high ball just below the knee, Lisa Evans was tripped from behind, Pilkington got cramp and Thornton hurt her leg.
A Southport defender also went down with a blow to the head and was taken to hospital in an ambulance.
It was decided, with a shaken-up team and a player to look after – and L&C having already won the league with that scoreline – it was fair to allow Southport to call the game there.
L&C men’s 3rds lost 2-0 to Lancaster and Morecambe men’s 3rds at home.
It was goalless at half-time and Leyland started to sense the potential for picking up some valuable points in their battle to avoid finishing bottom of Division Six.
But the chances of a surprise win were diminished early in the second half when the Lancaster centre-forward squeezed the ball past goalkeeper Tim Sullivan.
L&C created odd chances but another goal for the visitors midway through the second half ended Leyland’s hopes of a comeback.
A heavy defeat for Blackpool 3rds against promotion-chasing Preston 5ths meant that Blackpool stay rooted to the foot of the table, although L&C will need to dig in for their penultimate game of the season against Preston.