Pride, passion and belief were the words uttered by the Lilywhites ahead of their fine 7-0 away win against Chorley Women FC's Development side on Sunday.
After three wins in their last four games, the Lilywhites came out all guns blazing in the first half.
North End’s early efforts were rewarded after ten minutes when as Katie Woodhead’s 25-yard shot found its way over the Chorley defence and goalkeeper’s head to find the net.
Chorley’s ‘keeper pulled off some fantastic saves to deny Olivia Askam, Freya Hunt and Beth Wilson from doubling the lead.
The second did arrive 20 minutes later through Askam. Abi Cookson put in the hard work, beating not one but twodefenders inside the box before supplying Askam with a perfectly weighted ball to allow her to take the shot firsttime, slotting it past the goalkeeper.
PNE continued to create chance after chance but were unable to convert. While the defence looked in store for a quiet day, Rose Stuttard was on hand to save at the other end, making some important one-on-one saves to keep Chorley at bay.
With the first half coming into its final minutes, the Lilywhites might have felt they deserved a greater winning margin but were continuously denied through the hosts’ shot-stopper.
However, two minutes before the break, substitute Rachelle Smith gave the Lilywhites their third to close out the half.
North End set out to press further after the restart and while Chorley also came out fighting, it was the Lilywhiteswho again found the back of the net, Askam getting her second of the match in the 50th minute when her shot took a deflection off a Chorley defender to wrongfoot the goalkeeper.
The team camaraderie felt like it was on a whole new level during the game as everything seemed to be going in North End’s favour.
On the hour, Katie Woodhead switched the play with a perfectly weighted pass to the right, teeing up Lucy Swift infront of goal to give North end their fifth.
Their sixth was netted by Abi Cookson, who was truly deserving of her goal after her efforts up front throughout the contest.
Frustration grew among the home side, who were reduced to ten players after a frustrated kick on Cookson afterthe ball had been played saw one of their players shown a straight red card.
Being down to ten players didn’t prevent Chorley from trying to get a consolation. A miskick out of PNE’s defence opened up a chance, only for the finish to go wide of the left-hand post.
Courtney Woodhead made a fantastic tackle at the back to deny Chorley late on, preserving her side’s clean sheet.
With the clock ticking down, the game seemed to be over, but Beth Wilson got one last bit of action in the closing seconds, scoring right before the final whistle.
After an impressive display, first team coach David Rawcliffe expressed his admiration for the players’ efforts.
He said: “It’s another fantastic performance from the players and the result truly shows that.
“I’m beyond proud of how well the team has improved week after week and it just goes to show that with time, resilience and a shared goal, things will slowly fall into place.
“I think we came out very strong from the get-go and you could see that in how well we were getting forward andthe chances we were creating.
“Once we got that first goal – and can we note just how good of a goal it was – I think we knew we were going to witness some great work from the girls and that showed in the first 30 minutes.
“We were moving the ball around extremely well, creating small triangles, shifting play, and just putting all those pieces from training into the real thing.”
Asked about the message given to the team at the halfway stage, Rawcliffe added: “I don’t think we can ever be content, there’s always room for improvement in every game and this was no different.
“If you look at how many shots we had in comparison to the scoreline, we could definitely be more clinical and decisive in the final third knowing when to be somewhat selfish and when to release the ball sooner. But that was the only main thing we wanted them to look at.”
As the victory made it four wins out of five for the women’s team, Rawcliffe explained that he has been pleased to see things fall into place of late, after a slower start to the season in terms of results, following the mass recruitment of players from Sir Tom Finney Ladies.
“It’s an incredible feeling but it’s one that we can’t take for granted,” he continued.
“We need to continue to put the work in at training sessions as well as game days and hopefully this is just the start for us and there’s plenty more to come.
“As a coach it brings me and Nigel plenty of pride but also lots of new ideas on areas to work on and strengthen. The pride, passion and belief shown was incredible.”
Goalscorer Olivia Askam added: "It's a really good result with plenty of positives. We played really well as a team in terms of passing and played some great football.
"What we want to take into the next game is [improving] the final ball and being a bit more clinical on goal. We had plenty of chances and probably should have put a few more away. This is only going to come with more game time.”
PNE Women will look to continue their winning streak when they return to action on Sunday against second-placed side Blackburn Community Sports Club.