Preston North End Women suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of reigning Northern Division champions Sheffield FC Ladies on Sunday afternoon.
PNE were behind in the opening stages as Carla Ward’s corner was diverted into her own net by Nikki Emery.
The ball cannoned off the leg of Emery as a Sheffield player missed her header and Danielle Brown couldn’t prevent it hitting the back of the net.
The home side’s pressure continued and they came close to a second on two occasions.
In the ninth minute, Danielle Cox rose highest to meet another Ward corner but saw her header clip the bar before Emma Johnson’s shot was fired just over.
Brown was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half and produced three fantastic saves as the first half drew to a close.
First, she made a good save to deny Lisa Giampalma from ten yards before tipping Jodie Michalska’s effort around the post with a magnificent one handed save
Five minutes before the interval Brown denied Michalska again after she broke the offside trap to ensure the deficit remained at one goal heading into the break.
The former Manchester City stopper was called into action again in the 47th minute as she tipped Ward’s effort around the post before her opposite number was tested for the first time three minutes later.
The Lilywhites’ top goalscorer Chelsea Flanagan cut inside on her left foot and got a shot away from the edge of the area, but she saw her effort palmed away by Claire Wallhead and the danger was cleared.
From the resulting phase of play Sheffield doubled their lead through Michalska.
Ward played the ball back to Ellie Gilliatt who sent in a pin perfect cross for Michaslka to glance a header into the far corner to make it 2-0.
The away side pushed for a way back into the game following the goal and came close in the 53rd minute through Jade Parker, but her lofted effort drifted just past Wallhead’s post.
Brown then pulled off a fantastic double save eight minutes later to keep Sheffield at bay but she couldn’t do anything about their third goal in the 74th minute.
Substitute Suzanne Davies received the ball on the left hand side of the area before cutting in on her right foot and rifling the ball into the back of the net off the underside of the bar to all but confirm the three points for the home side.
Davies nearly added her second of the game late on but was denied by Brown, who had performed excellently all afternoon with numerous good saves.
The full time whistle sounded shortly after to bring an end to PNE’s mini-unbeaten run ahead of Sunday’s home clash with second bottom Derby County Ladies.