A dramatic late winner at Liberty Way for new signing Katie Brusell helped secure three points for North End in a closely fought battle against Nuneaton Town.
Nicola Foskett’s claim for a penalty could have changed the outcome of the game part way through the second half. The striker felt Charlotte Farrell dragged her down inside the penalty box, but to Nuneaton’s disgust the referee waved away the protests.
It was Brusell though that popped up to clinch the decisive goal, and inflict disappointment within the Nuneaton camp following a superb battling performance from the Boro.
Luke Swindlehurst made three changes to his starting line-up ahead of the game. Jenna Carroll and Gemma Watson returned to the squad after missing out last week’s defeat to Nottingham Forest, and Katie Brusell made her club debut following her departure from Liverpool.
Danielle Young’s corner in from the right was the first dangerous ball into the penalty area for PNE, but Charlotte Farrell’s headed connection on the ball could not guide it goalwards within the first six minutes.
Nuneaton were in high spirits following their impressive victory against Huddersfield Town the previous week, and it was Nuneaton that looked the more threatening going forward in the opening stages.
Watson’s ball over to Brusell was headed on by the debutant, finding Lagan Makin running on to it, but she could only shoot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Nuneaton came the closest to scoring, however, with a looping shot over Dan Brown but the North End goalkeeper somehow managed to get a touch on the ball and claw the shot out for a corner.
Stalemate at half time may have come as quite a surprise for Swindlehurst’s side after the 13-0 drubbing Nuneaton received against North End at the start of January.
On the 48th minute Hannah Forster’s sliding tackle outside the home team’s penalty box allowed Makin free on goal once more, before snatching at her shot and firing high over the bar.
It was Makin again who was given time to shoot, this time her shot found the target from the edge of the penalty box, but a good save from Christie quashed the danger.
An unusual change of formation for Swindlehurst’s side came with five minutes of normal time left to play. Keeleigh Savage came off the bench to play as the second striker, leaving only three in defence.
Just as the game looked to be petering out into a draw, Katie Brusell set her sights on goal from just outside the penalty box as she smashed the ball past Christie in the Nuneaton goal, and secured all three points for her new club.
PNE line-up: Brown, Swarbrick (Stanfield 66), Forshaw, Farrell, Carroll (Savage 85), H. Forster, Walker (Turner 78), Young, Watson, Makin, Brusell
Nuneaton Town line-up: Christie, Belcher, McCook, Fowler, Stephens (Deacon 73), McKinde, Robyn, Steele, Rowles, McGuckin, Foskett
Unused sub: Baxter