Preston North End Women earned a credible draw against the 2013/14 Northern League champions Sheffield FC Ladies on Sunday afternoon at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.
But Abbie McIver equalised for ten player Sheffield FC – all this after Natasha Cooke was shown a straight red card in the first half – the action unfolding in front of former England cricketer Andrew Flintoff who was in attendance.
Manager Luke Podmore handed a debut to Chelsea Flanagan after signing her from Manchester City in midweek and she was joined in the starting eleven by the returning Jade Parker.
Sheffield tried to gain the lead from the off and had a chance within the opening minute to do so.
Jodie Michalska burst down the left and crossed for Sophie Barker but her shot was blocked by a combination of Laura Walker and Danielle Brown.
PNE captain Walker was involved again five minutes later when she had to be alert to clear a Michalska header off the line.
As the first half progressed PNE started to get a foothold in the game and came close to opening the scoring with 17 minutes played.
Parker turned her marker inside out and crossed for Swarbrick but she couldn’t get her effort on target and the danger was cleared.
Sheffield FC were reduced to ten players in the 30th minute after Cooke brought down Parker whilst she was through on goal.
The referee consulted his assistant and after some deliberation he showed the red card to the former Lincoln centre back.
The away side didn’t let the player disadvantage affect them and took the lead three minutes before half time.
Michalska raced away on the left hand side and crossed for Carla Ward, who pulled it back for Barker.
The midfielder took one touch to set herself before hammering an effort past Brown in the North End goal.
PNE started the second half well creating a few half chances before equalising in the 70th minute.
Walker floated a corner into the box and 17 year old Chadwick rose above Claire Wallhead to nod home her first goal for the first team since stepping up from the development squad the previous weekend.
Two minutes later PNE took the lead for the first time in the game with former Liverpool midfielder Swarbrick getting her second goal of the season.
New signing Flanagan skewed a shot into her direction and Swarbrick tapped in from close range to complete the turnaround in two minutes of second half action.
The jubilation of leading against last year’s champions didn’t last long though as Sheffield were level in the 75th minute.
Michalska, a thorn in the side of the PNE defence all afternoon, looped a cross to the back post and McIver was on hand to apply the finish to tie the scores with 15 minutes left to play.
PNE had chances to win the game late on but Chadwick fired wide before Flanagan fired into the side netting deep into added time.
The result secured a credible draw against the 2013/14 champions and provides a confidence boost ahead of Sunday’s trip to Coventry City at the Ricoh Arena, part of a double header between the men’s and women’s sides.
Fans can attend the women’s clash at the Ricoh Arena for only £1 if they show their ticket stub from the men’s Sky Bet League One clash the previous day on the gate.