Blackpool and Lytham St Annes hockey review

Lytham's Will Stone
Lytham's Will Stone

Lytham Ladies Hockey Club’s senior ladies consolidated their top-four slot in North Two with a 2-1 win away to local rivals Garstang.

Looking to attack from the off and defend high up the pitch, Lytham frustrated Garstang early on but the hosts eventually got through their defences to score the only goal of the first half.

Determined to stick to their game-plan, Lytham came out fighting for the second half and had the majority of the play. From one of several short corners, Emily Adams equalised with a reverse strike.

Lytham maintained the high-intensity attack and were rewarded with a winner from Heidi Whitehead, who took two players on in the D before slipping the ball past the keeper.

After a few positional changes, Lytham looked to maintain control, and although Garstang had chances late on, Lytham could rely on steadfast defending and some fine saves by Lauren Lockhart.

Lytham 2 were glad they braved the freezing conditions to take on Lancaster and Morecambe 2 at AKS as their 6-0 win returned them to the top of Lancashire Central division one.

Lytham dominated from the first whistle as strong tackles and fantastic passing enabled Lauren Gibbons to give them an early lead.

Tia Pumphrey soon added the second from a skilful run and a strike into the corner.

Well-timed tackles meant Lancaster rarely entered the Lytham D and the hosts kept them on the back foot.

And it was 3-0 at half-time after Jasmine Carey’s cross was converted by the well-positioned Pumphrey.

There was no let-up from Lytham in the second half as Pumphrey completed her hat-trick. The remaining 35 minutes were almost entirely spent in the Lancaster half as Lytham passed accurately.

Short corners were not converted but the pressure was rewarded when Malley Parsons stretched to make it 5-0.

Lytham played hard until the final whistle and scored a sixth when Minnie Rogers’ strike rebounded for Sally Stone to round the keeper and score.

Maisie Rogers also made some fine saves to ensure Lytham kept a clean sheet.

Lytham Men returned to winning ways with a battling 3-2 victory over Crewe Vagrants at AKS.

They moved the ball well from the start as Tom Evans looked threatening down the wings in this North 2 West contest.

Lytham conceded from a penalty corner but soon equalised from one of their own, Shawcross beating the keeper at the second attempt.

Lytham soaked up pressure and took the lead when Blacow slotted home at the back post.

And Will Stone made it 3-1 with a reverse shot after an excellent run. Lytham held possession well to preserve their lead until Crewe made it 3-2 with a deflected shot.

Despite Stone conceding a late card and penalty corner, Lytham held out for the win to warm all the players and spectators who braved the sub-zero temperatures.

Lytham 2 bounced back from a run of disappointing games with a committed and solid display to draw 2-2 away to Fylde 2. Starting well and holding their own, Lytham scored first only to find themselves 2-1 behind at half-time.

Their midfield play improved in the second half and Aaron Gee equalised confidently after a mazy run.

Lytham kept up the momentum in search of a winner but had a penalty flick cleared off the line by the keeper.

Blackpool Hockey Club always knew they would be in for a tough game away to Keswick but a poor performance resulted in a one-sided stroll in the park for the home side.

Blackpool left with just one goal to show for their four-hour round trip, while Keswick reached 10!

Sloppy defensive errors, turnovers in possession and a pacy Keswick forward line cut through Blackpool’s defence time and time again, with only a Simon Thomas goal assisted by Jordan Payne giving the visitors anything to shout about.

Blackpool showed some spirit in the middle portion of the game, conceding only three goals in the 15 minutes either side of half-time, but the seven they shipped at the beginning of the first half and in the closing moments of the second left a stinging scoreline that could have been worse but for some good saves from Graeme Kilshaw in the Blackpool goal.

Blackpool 2 headed in the same direction to face their Keswick counterparts in Cockermouth.

They also feared the worst but this turned out to be a very even contest in which Blackpool gave their best performance of the season.

Blackpool conceded an early goal but were able to equalise shortly afterwards. Matt Atherton’s (above) initial shot from a penalty corner was saved but the ball looped into the air and winger Will Pickles was at hand to strike. Keswick took the lead again when a shot from the edge of the D struck defender Pete Latimer on the foot and deflected into the goal, leaving goalkeeper Toby Jeffery no chance.

Just one goal down at half-time, Blackpool’s spirits were high and they pushed for an equaliser, with Will Pickles causing problems down the right wing and linking well with Jack Williams up front. However, it was Keswick who scored next from a breakaway and some lax marking.

Blackpool’s heads didn’t drop and they won another penalty corner, Atherton scoring with a stunning reverse stick strike to reduce the deficit to a single goal.

Both keepers made some important saves, with Toby Jeffery making several close-range blocks. However, in the last minute Keswick scored again to seal the 4-2 win.

Blackpool can take heart from their all-round performance and can look forward to the rest of the season.