The women’s team got back to winning ways with an emphatic 9-2 victory away at Sir Tom Finney Ladies.
Rachelle Smith got the Lilywhites off to a flying start at UCLan Sports Arena, finding the back of the net only two minutes into the game.
Liv Askam produced a brilliant through ball to find Smith, who slotted home into the left-hand side of the goal.
With PNE showing complete dominance in possession, it wasn’t long before another goal as Smith scored another only five minutes after her first.
This time the ball was played over the defence by Ella Radcliffe to find Smith, who scored an incredible goal, shifting the ball out of her feet quickly and finishing into the top right corner.
Incredibly, Smith had completed her hattrick with just ten minutes on the clock.
And moments later, Lucy Swift converted from Charlotte Greenwood’s cross to put the visitors 4-0 up after just 12 minutes.
North End’s quick passing play was causing all sorts of problems for Sir Tom Finney, who were struggling to keep the ball.
As both teams became accustomed to the intensity of the game, the play became more end-to-end, although the Lilywhites still saw more of the ball.
After the flying start, Smith added to her tally by scoring her fourth and the visitors’ fifth, which after just 30 minutes was exactly the start the girls would have wanted.
Just when it seemed things could not get any better, Smith found the back of the net again to take her individual tally to an incredible five.
Before half-time, a little concentration was lost from PNE, from which Sir Tom Finney took full advantage and scored to make it 6-1 at half-time.
It was a big first half performance from the girls, though, whose work rates could not be faulted.
Things didn’t go North End's way to the same extent in the second half, as within ten minutes of the restart, Sir Tom Finney scored again as another lapse in concentration was latched upon by the hosts.
The game became a bit sloppy with passes not getting to where players wanted and the Lilywhites seemed to lose their way a bit from the first half.
Losing the ball from set pieces and throw-ins caused Sir Tom Finney to gain some confidence with PNE having to work extremely hard to get the ball at one stage.
But towards the end of the second half, the Lilywhites seemed to get some of their confidence and level of football back from the first half.
This then caused Sir Tom Finney to work extremely hard themselves, putting in some good strong tackles and playing a high line, which caught the Lilywhites out quite a few times and stopped them from scoring.
After some frustration and 50/50 tackles not quite going the visitors’ way, North End did extend their lead again.
After a big performance from Liv Askam, she managed to get her goal and placed the ball well in the back of the net.
Nine minutes later, Askam doubled her goal tally by scoring again, with a quality finish over the keeper's head which was perfectly timed to get the desired result.
Almost straight afterwards, Charlotte Greenwood who had been causing chaos all game got her first goal after nine weeks out due to injury, with her ability a welcome addition back into the squad.
The game ended with a 9-2 scoreline, with the positive display from the girls ensuring they were back to winning ways after last week's penalty shoot out defeat to Wigan Athletic.
Speaking post-match, first team coach David Rawcliffe said: “The girls started well and we wanted them to start out fast from the whistle.
“I was really up for the game today, a local derby for us being two Preston teams, so it was good to get four goals within 12 minutes, that really set the tone for the game.”
David felt his team controlled the ball well and with the 6-1 half-time scoreline, he felt the players had given the coaching staff exactly what they wanted to see.
He said that allowed for a couple of changes at the break.
He explained: “We made some substitutions for the girls that wouldn't ordinarily have that time [on the pitch], so it was good to see them on the pitch getting some minutes.
“Rachelle getting five today upfront was an outstanding performance and I am proud of the girls.”
With David, fellow coach Nigel Greenwood and a number of players having moved from Sir Tom Finney to PNE in the summer, Rawcliffe admitted it was something of an odd feeling to be playing against a side he and so many of the girls know so well.
“It is weird having spent three years here previously, always weird coming back and playing an old team, though the team did the talking on the pitch, a good result roughly deserved from the girls today.”
The next game will be away to Carlisle United, where the girls will look to pick up where they left off after this fine display.