Strickland hat-trick seals victory

Raelene Strickland

Raelene Strickland

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Leyland and Chorley Ladies have taken another huge step towards league honours.

They now need just five points to be crowned champions of the Lancashire Central Women’s Hockey Association Division One after their latest victory, 4-2 against Lytham St Annes Ladies seconds.

Despite battling gale-force winds, Leyland and Chorley got off to a perfect start.

After five minutes of play, an interception by the Leyland midfield saw the ball crossed in to Sarah Winstanley who slipped it to Raelene Strickland, and she made no mistake slotting comfortably past the keeper.

Lenny Smith, Kat Wright and Paula Thornton all saw plenty of the ball in the middle of midfield , but they struggled to break down a stubborn Lytham defence.

Lytham soon hit back from a penalty corner and then Strickland had a goal disallowed as the ball appeared to strike a foot in the build-up.

The Leyland and Chorley defence continued to work hard and keeper Alison Clewlow made several fine saves.

Minutes before the break, the Lytham pressure told as Clewlow couldn’t do anything to stop a shot flying into the top-right corner.

The ladies were in an unfamiliar position but a change of formation saw them dominate long periods of the second half.

Penny Robb, Strickland and Winstanley all persisted at the Lytham defence and eventually it was Nicola Wallbank who grabbed the

equaliser.

L&C continued to rally and Paula Thornton and Gail Arthur linked up before the former found Strickland and with a smart finish, she put her side in front.

Despite battling fatigue, L&C’s fine second half ended on a high as Winstanley found Strickland, and she powered the ball past the keeper.