Preston North End Women kicked off their North West Women’s Regional League Division One North campaign with a 2-2 draw away at Accrington Stanley on Sunday.
Playing at the home of non-league Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena, the Lilywhites trailed at the break to a set-piece goal before turning the game on its head with an own goal and then a Madison Hadley header to put them in front.
However, the hosts came back into it with another own goal, this time in their favour, to ensure the spoils were shared.
It was a quiet opening 45 minutes in the goalmouth at both ends before an improved second half from the Lilywhites, brought about by a change in shape to a 3-5-2 formation, with the visitors just not quite able to overturn their first-half deficit.
Speaking after the game, co-manager David Rawcliffe said: “Overall we’re happy to take a point. First half they came out and really pressed us. We never really got going first half, it was a bit of a slow start for us.
“To get back in it, we had to work harder as a team and as individuals and halfway through the second half we got back in the game with an equaliser from a deflected cross and then a header from a set piece which was good and took us into the lead in the second half.
“They really did press from then on, with three up front, and put us under significant pressure and an unfortunate own goal got them back into the game. I thought we were comfortable after we went ahead. They were a very, very good side – very strong, very fast, they pressed us hard and we were up against it for large parts of the game.
“We felt it was a fair result for a game we think in the end we were happy to take a point from. Accrington Stanley will be up there competing at the top of the league.
“It’s the first one of season, it’s a point away from home and we didn’t lose so it starts us off on a good footing for the season ahead.”
Hadley’s header came from the free-kick delivery of another new signing, Sam Ball, and Rawcliffe was pleased with the impact of both new and existing players against Accrington Stanley, as Justine Elliott, Eleanor Collins, Natalie Jaques and Nicola Hamilton all made their first appearances since signing, too – the latter two as substitutes.
“All the new signings did well. We made six new signings throughout the summer [for the first team]. The pre-season has been shorter than normal and they havent had a huge amount of time to gel with the squad but I think they have all come in and made some really solid contributions and really become part of the team quickly.
“It’s always difficult bringing new players into the team but overall, I thought all of them did well and two of our new signings created our second goal; Sam Ball took the set piece and Madison Hadley put the header in to score the goal. They combined really well. We’re impressed all-round with both the existing and new players.”
The women’s team are next in action against Blackpool Ladies on Wednesday night at UCLan Sports Arena, where spectators can watch free of charge, with a 6.45pm kick-off.
Follow the women’s team on Twitter here.