Preston North End Women became the first name on the FA Women’s Premier League Plate trophy with a 3-0 victory over Huddersfield Town Ladies on Sunday afternoon at Guiseley FC.
Manager Luke Podmore made three changes to the starting XI that lost against Nottingham Forest Ladies last weekend with Beth Stanfield, Rebecca Foster and Savage replacing Melissa Ball, Emily Hutton and Sarah Chadwick.
Savage, making her first competitive start in nearly 12 months, was deployed as a lone striker in the opening period of the game and it was her cross that caused confusion in the Huddersfield box in the 10th minute, forcing Laura Windle to turn over her own bar at the back post.
Huddersfield started to get a foot hold in the game as the first half progressed and created their first chance thirteen minutes later.
Debbie Hastings broke through the PNE defence but couldn’t find a way past Danielle Brown who comfortably saved the shot.
The Terriers had the majority of the support in a 256 strong crowd and their fans thought they had opened the scoring in the 36th minute when Olivia da Costa send a deep cross into the box that went out for a goal kick before hitting the back of the net.
Brown was rarely tested in the first 45 minutes but she had to be aware shortly before half-time to keep the scores level.
Huddersfield set off on a counter attack and Hastings played in Emily Heckler who brought the ball inside past Kerry Nickson before aiming a shot for the top corner only to be thwarted by an impressive one handed save from the Lilywhites stopper.
North End pushed for a goal late in the first half and their efforts were rewarded on the stroke of half-time.
Nikki Emery burst down the left and aimed a cross for the middle that was slightly over hit, but Swarbrick was able to latch onto the end of it.
The winger looked up and spotted Savage in the middle but she ignored the option and floated the ball over Laura Carter and into the back of the net via the post with her first touch to give PNE the lead.
Huddersfield came out after the interval with all guns blazing but still couldn’t find a way past the impressive PNE defence.
Captain Kate Mallin made room for herself in the area to latch onto a low cross but fired wide from eight yards out.
Luke Podmore made his first change of the game in the 60th minute with Chadwick coming on for Foster but it was a Huddersfield substitute who had the next chance of the game.
A corner wasn’t fully cleared and it fell to Katie Lockwood who hit a looping effort from 25 yards out that clipped the bar before going out of play.
As time ticked by Huddersfield pushed forward for a way back into the game but were constantly denied by the PNE defence and Brown.
Katie Nutter saw her shot saved down low by Brown before an in-swinging free kick from Mallin was diverted onto her own cross bar by Stanfield.
The Lilywhites were soaking up the pressure with ease and secured the victory with five minutes left.
Laura Walker spotted the run of Savage and released a perfectly weighted pass for her to latch on to.
The PNE striker took a touch to take the ball around Carter before slotting home with her right foot for her first goal since 11th May 2014 due to injury.
Five minutes of added time were indicated at the end of the second half and PNE were able to see it out with ease, even adding a third with almost the last kick of the game.
Player of the Match Chelsea Flanagan received the ball 25 yards out from goal and took a few touches before smashing it into the top corner for her 16th goal of the season.
The full time whistle sounded shortly after Flanagan’s goal to spark jubilant celebrations on the pitch and to confirm Preston North End as the first name on the FA Women’s Premier League Plate trophy in the competition’s inaugural year.
The result also confirmed a new record set for the competition as PNE hadn’t conceded a goal in the competition; recording a total of four cleansheets.