Jenna Carroll’s late goal on 72 minutes secured all three points to finish the league in style, with only Sporting Club Albion and Blackburn Rovers able to catch PNE at the top.Rosie McDonnell opened the scoring just before half time with a well-placed finish, adding to her goal at Bamber Bridge back in September.
Bradford’s unbeaten record since early November in the league did not dampen North End’s spirit even after going behind, and after the break they looked like a team on a mission.
Yasmine Swarbrick netted 12 minutes into the second half after some good play by Natasha Flint down the right before Jenna Carroll clinched all three points, poking the ball in from close range following a corner.
Luke Swindlehurst named an unchanged team after the 2-1 win at Stoke City two weeks ago, with only Laura Walker returning to the squad as a substitute.
The first real opportunity of the game came on nine minutes, Flint displayed her outstanding technical ability by dribbling around the Bradford midfielder with ease but her shot towards goal flashed narrowly wide.
One minute later and it was Bradford that found the target, captain Charlotte Stuart’s dipping shot on goal was well saved by Dan Brown, who pushed the ball over the bar with her fingertips.
Stuart was then doing the dirty work at the other end, clearing the ball off the line and denying Charlotte Farrell a 25th minute goal.
Danielle Whitham’s shot from distance tested Brown but she was more than equal to it, as North End’s resilience at the back restricted the home side to long range shots.
However, uncertainty on the ball cost North End as possession was handed to McDonnell down the left before picking out Hannah Campbell inside the penalty box only for her header to somehow miss the target.
Two minutes later and McDonnell was in no mood for Campbell’s assistance this time around, as she converted from inside the penalty area, smashing the ball across goal and past Brown to open the scoring.
A disappointing way to enter half time for North End but there could be no real complaint about the scoreline. Although, it was the manner in how Swindlehurst’s side reacted in the second half after conceding so close to half time.
North End started the half well, keeping the ball rolling on a fine pitch at Eccleshill United’s ground, their passing game was coming off effectively.
Farrell came close again for the visitors as she rattled the bar from a free kick and Beth Stanfield’s rebound was scrambled clear.
Then, with 57 minutes gone, Swarbrick levelled the tie as she positioned herself well at the front post, beating the Bradford defence to Flint’s cross and drilled the ball past Chloe Precious in the Bradford goal.
Campbell attempted to make up for her earlier miss with an audacious effort from range but Brown was confident enough to tip the ball over her bar and keep the score at 1-1.
The all-important goal came just seven minutes later, Danielle Young’s corner from the left found Farrell rising highest to it before the ball was blocked on the line. Carroll was quickest to it as she poked the ball into the guarded net, sending the North End players into raptures.
Again Campbell had another goalscoring opportunity, this time she was played in one on one with Brown but it was the PNE goalkeeper that won the battle of wits, putting the Bradford striker off in the process as she fired the ball high and wide of the target.
It was no surprise when shouts of relief came from the North End followers at the full time whistle as the side managed to do all they could by picking up three points against a strong Bradford side, and all they can do now is wait.
With Stoke City losing at bottom of the league Loughborough Foxes, it leaves only Sporting Club Albion (5 games remaining, 9 points behind) and Blackburn Rovers (3 games remaining, 9 points behind) who can possibly catch PNE at the top of the Northern Division.
Bradford City starting line-up: Precious, Whitham, O'Hara, Fuller, Stuart, Olds, McDonnell, Campbell, Crosby, Mushtaq (Elliot 81), Stokes
Unused sub: Connell
PNE starting line-up: Brown, Stanfield, Forshaw, Farrell, Carroll, H. Forster (Walker 67), Young, Flint, Watson, Makin (Savage 81), Swarbrick
Unused sub: N. Forster, Turner