Preston North End Women suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Nottingham Forest Ladies on Sunday afternoon in an eight goal thriller.
The tone of the Lilywhites’ afternoon was set early on as they found themselves 2-0 behind in the opening five minutes with Forest striker Andrea Bell grabbing both of the goals.
First, Isabel Sullivan played in Bell to slot home past Danielle Brown before she added her second two minutes later with a perfectly executed lob from 25 yards out.
PNE’s bad luck continued as the away side extended their lead to three goals midway through the first half as Elizabeth Ejupi added the goal of the game.
She received the ball with her back to goal around 40 yards out, swivelled and fired into the top corner to give Danielle Brown no chance of saving the shot.
The home side pushed for a way back into the game following Forest’s third goal and came close through Alice Forshaw who tried her luck from a long range free kick only to see it clip the bar before going out for a goal kick.
Podmore made a double change at half-time with Keeleigh Savage and Jade Parker replacing Sarah Chadwick and Melissa Ball.
There was also a formation change as PNE switched to a flat 4-4-2 with Savage partnering Flanagan up front.
The change of formation had an immediate impact as PNE reduced the deficit in the 48th minute, Aimee Cleaver added her first goal of the season.
The central midfielder skipped past two challenges on the edge of the area before firing past Vanessa Kinnerley to cut Forest’s advantage to just two goals.
North End were on the front foot from the off in the second half, a much better start compared to the first, and added a second goal in the 71st minute through the club’s top goalscorer Flanagan.
The former Manchester City striker showed great footwork on the edge of the area to make room for herself before curling an effort past the despairing dive of Kinnerley to make it 2-3.
The comeback was nearly complete seven minutes later as Flanagan sent in a powerfully struck free kick that forced Kinnerley to punch away, with Kerry Nickson inches from levelling the scores.
Forest were constantly defending their backline as the clock ticked towards the 80th minute but created a chance of their own on the break away, only to see Brown pull off a good save to prevent Bell sealing her hat trick.
However, Bell did add her third goal of the game six minutes later to all but secure the three points for the away side.
Substitute Natasha Meade attacked towards the byline and pulled the ball back for Bell to slot home from close range for restore Forest’s two goal lead.
Meade then got her name on the scoresheet in added time after showing great control to bring a looping cross down before firing past Brown to give the away side a 5-2 advantage.
There was still time for one final goal in the game and it fell to PNE’s captain Laura Walker.
The skipper received the ball on the right hand side of the area before floating a cross towards the back post that looped over Kinnerley and into the back of the net for 3-5.
The final whistle followed shortly after the eighth goal of the game to confirm PNE’s eighth league defeat of the season whilst Forest are now all but safe from relegation.
Next up for PNE Women is the FA Women’s Premier League Plate Final against Huddersfield Town Ladies at Guiseley AFC on 26th April, 3pm kick off.