Batley Ladies Hockey team maintained their impressive start to the Yorkshire League Division Four North West campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win away to Pudsey last Saturday.
Pudsey have come down from a higher division but Batley went into the game having drawn their opening game of the season at Adel and earned an impressive 6-0 win over Slazenger third team in their opening two games and — with a strong team of regulars on duty — they were confident of maintaining their impressive unbeaten start.
The game started with Batley on attack, passing the ball around and making good use of the space on the pitch.
Batley were looking dangerous and getting the ball in to Pudsey’s circle, looking for an early goal.
The breakthrough came when Gail Culshaw made a pass into the circle that was picked up by Kim Sharples who lifted it neatly over the Pudsey goalkeeper to put Batley 1-0 up.
Quickly after this Pudsey began to get back into the game, making it difficult for Batley to keep moving the ball around with the home team beginning to make attacks of their own.
The Batley defence, with Kay Hawkyard at the centre, were quick to close these down and feed the ball back out to the midfield.
Batley had a second chance and looked to have doubled their lead when a scramble in front of goal saw Jo Forbes hit the back of the net, but the goal was disallowed as the ball was judged to have gone out of play in the build up.
Batley were aware that their slender half-time lead was fragile with Pudsey creating good attempts on goal.
The game continued to be close, Pudsey were fighting hard for an equaliser and Batley were determined to hold onto their lead.
Pudsey won a penalty corner with only a few minutes of the game to go but Batley’s brilliant defence held on with Mel Neal racing out to take the ball from the attackers.
Batley are level at the top of the table on seven points with this week’s opponents Horsforth, who lead the way on goal difference, and visit Heckmondwike Grammar School on Saturday (start 10.30am).
Player-of-the-match went to Kim Sharples.
Cleckheaton Ladies suffered a 2-1 defeat at home to Wakefield Fifth team in Division Five West last Saturday.
Cleckheaton had won their opening game of the season, 3-0 away to Slazenger Fourths the previous week but were unable to follow up with a second straight victory when Wakefield visited Heckmnondwike Grammar School.
Cleckheaton travel to Lockwood Park this Saturday when they face Huddersfield Dragons third team, who lost their only game so far.