A first half goal from Liv Askam wasn’t enough to secure the win for PNEWFC on the road, as Haslingden Ladies and Girls came from behind to beat them 3-1.
The Lilywhites were looking to secure fourth position in the league table, while Haslingden were battling for second place and promotion, meaning both teams had plenty to play for.
The Lilywhites got oﬀ to a flying start; they were first to every ball, applying pressure, and forcing Haslingden into uncomfortable positions.
While the Lilywhites controlled the pace and play of the game they struggled to hit the target on several occasions with Lucy Swift, Charlotte Greenwood, and Liv Askam all coming close to opening the scoreline, while some efforts also struck the crossbar.
However, North End only had to wait until the 18th minute for Askam to break the deadlock. After winning the ball oﬀ a Haslingden defender, Askam was able to shift the ball from her right foot to her favoured left and she found the top left corner from outside the box.
With the upper hand in the game, PNE looked to extend their lead down the left-hand side through Lucy Swift, who found Beth Wilson on the edge of the box, whose shot went just wide of the far post.
As the first half progressed the home side settled into the game. Set pieces showed Haslingden’s threat, with one of their best chances coming from a free-kick, which looked to be heading towards the top corner, but it hit the outside of the post before going out for a goal kick.
Another set piece for the home side caused problems for the Lilywhites as they tried to play an oﬀside trap that wasn’t caught by the referee leaving several players from Haslingden through on goal, yet Preston North End’s goalkeeper reacted to the danger to clear the ball out of the area.
The home side came out for the second half all guns blazing to find the equalising goal. Hasligden were given a corner from the left-hand side which was played into a dangerous area and headed back across goal to level the score.
Through an incident in the box, the home side were awarded a penalty in the 59th minute. Although the Lilywhites goalkeeper guessed the right way the penalty kick was placed well into the bottom right-hand corner just beyond her reach.
Despite being a goal down there was still a chance for the Lilywhites to get back into the game. Liv Askam came close to scoring for but her eﬀorts were claimed by the ‘keeper. There would be chances for Swift, Wilson, and Abbie Jones throughout the second half but they couldn’t find an equaliser
Haslingden needed something special to put the game to rest, with the Lilywhites defending well for much of the contest, but the hosts found exactly that late on.
A clearance landed at the feet of a Hasligden midfielder 35 yards out where she took no time in getting a first time shot oﬀ, which rifled over the back four and past the goalkeeper into the top right corner.
First team coach Nigel Greenwood told PNE.Com: "We knew it was going to be a tough game as Haslingden needed points from their last three games to have a chance of pipping Blackpool to second place.
"We started off strongly, taking the game to the opposition having most of the possession and creating some good chances . Culminating in us taking the lead with a great strike from distance from Liv Askam.
"I think we were the stronger team for the first half hour and could have scored one or two more. After that though Haslingden came into it more as they started to boss the midfield and use the wide areas to good effect.
"Knowing they needed to get something from the game they pushed players higher up the field and we were probably lucky to go in at half time still leading.
"We tried to change it at half time to try and stem the flow by packing the midfield to take a bit of pressure off the defence. Unfortunately it didn’t work and Haslingden scored three goals in quick succession. We did come back into it a little bit but didn’t do enough to score again ourselves."
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