Preston North End WFC couldn’t find a way past the back four of Blackpool Ladies FC as the Tangerines came out on top with a 3-0 win.
The historical rivalry between PNE and Blackpool always leave supporters with plenty to look forward to and this game was no diﬀerent. The Lilywhites made the trip to the Fylde coast, as Sunday December 5th marked the 100-year anniversary of the FA’s ban on women’s football, with both teams paying tribute to the Dick, Kerr Ladies before kick oﬀ with a minute’s applause.
🎥 A minute’s applause in honour of the Dick, Kerr Ladies ahead of kick-off 100 years on from the FA ban on women’s football, and we’re now underway for today’s game against Blackpool!— Preston North End Women's Football Club (@PNE_WFC) December 5, 2021
0-0 #PNEWFC pic.twitter.com/XhxqkMed3O
With a number of players missing from the PNE squad, the Lilywhites had many players in diﬀerent positions this week as well as several younger players stepping up for the derby.
The Lilywhites put in the work from the very beginning defensively and it seemed like that would be the pattern of the first half, with Blackpool applying the pressure on the Lilywhites’ defence early on.
Goalkeeper Rose Stuttard had to be on her toes for today’s game playing a high line to deal with those awkward through balls and came up big multiple times with fantastic one on one saves.
With all the pressure being applied on PNEWFC, it looked like Blackpool would be the first to get on the scoreboard. In the 26th minute they did just that after a questionable oﬀside call that the referee overruled to award the Tangerines their opening goal of the game.
As the first half continued, North End began to find their feet more and started linking up their passes better, but just couldn’t get behind the last four orange shirts. Forward Liv Askam had one of the visitors’ few chances in the half as her left-footed attempt to curl the ball to the right-hand side of the goal was gathered by Blackpool’s goalkeeper.
With some slight changes to the formation and substitutions at the break, the Lilywhites came out with a new mindset and approach to the game. The changes seemed to make a diﬀerence, as only a few minutes in, forward Amy Roskell held up the ball before finding Rachelle Smith inside the six-yard box, but unfortunately, she could not convert the chance.
In the 48th minute a handball in the Lilywhites’ penalty area saw Blackpool awarded a spot kick. The Tangerines converted the penalty with a well-placed shot just inside the right-hand post.
The game become a little more like a derby as tensions started to rise between the two teams. Late tackles, pushing and shoving, and individual battles on the filed seemed to bring a new life into the PNEWFC side.
For the next 30 minutes the battle in the middle of the park continued as the Lilywhites’ defence and midfield dug deep to keep the Tangerines at bay. At the other end of the field, Abi Cookson found herself with a possible chance as she worked her way past the orange shirts but again, luck just wasn’t in her or her team’s favour as she couldn’t convert either.
Unfortunately for the Lilywhites, their opponents were able to increase their goal tally to three with only a few minutes remaining. An unfortunate mishap at the back gifted Blackpool a final goal of the game and shortly after the full-time whistle blew.
Speaking to The One And Only post-match, first team coach Nigel Greenwood said: “Today was not the result we were hoping for, but again, I cannot fault the girls on their performance today.
“We have a lot of experienced players out of action again this week, so that definitely makes a diﬀerence to the team and makes things diﬃcult.”
Nigel said that even though the team circumstances weren’t ideal for a derby, the girls put in their best eﬀorts.
He did concede that Blackpool were the worthy winners on this occasion: “They played a very good game overall and I think it’s safe to say they did dominate the field. They had a lot of chances so it could have easily been more.
“With football, it’s always a work in progress, there’s always going to be good days where everything goes in your favour and then there are times when things won’t go your way and today was just one of those days.”
Forward Ella Radcliffe added: “We are feeling a bit annoyed after that one. We felt we levelled with them.
“We didn’t have our usual starting XI but we felt we came back into the game. A full squad would have helped us.
“Defending as a team, we felt our tackling and defending was on point and quite good for the most part.
“We didn’t have many shots though and obviously needed more goals.”
The women's team's penultimate game before the Christmas break will see them host Morecambe next weekend.