New signing Samantha Ball has had an immediate impact on the Preston North End Women’s squad in pre-season following her return to the game.
Ball – formerly of last season’s champions in PNE’s division, Blackburn Community Sports Club – has just come back into playing football having taken some time out from the game after giving birth to her daughter Lilly last September.
She has been involved throughout pre-season, featuring in friendlies against Haslingden Ladies and Girls, Atherton Labernum Rovers Ladies, Fleetwood Town Wrens Ladies and AFC Darwen Ladies.
All three games ended in draws and Sam was among the scorers against Atherton, who North End have also coincidentally been drawn to face in the Women’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round next month.
Sam is aiming to use the pre-season period first and foremost to get back to full fitness, but also to build up momentum ahead of the league campaign starting on Sunday 21 August – away to Accrington Stanley – and she has high expectations for the season.
She said: “My aims for this season are to get back on the scoresheet as much as I can to contribute to us hopefully winning the league this season.
“It was nice to get on the score sheet against Atherton. It definitely gives me more confidence going forward as I would like to get a few more goals to my name in the coming season.
“There is so much talent at the club. We just need to show that on the pitch week in, week out, and get the points on the board.”
This season, Ball has advanced forward from her usual defensive midfield role to taking on the mantle at No.10, and with it, additional responsibilities from set pieces.
She is pleased to be enjoying her football again, particularly having returned to PNE – a club she has supported all her life – after representing the junior teams as a teenager before moving on to Bolton Wanderers.
Sam continued: “I started going on to watch North End when I was four-years-old and I have had a season ticket with my dad, in the same seats [in the Alan Kelly Town End], ever since.
“When I was eight, I started going to training with PNEWFC, and I have been playing football ever since.
“It’s fantastic now to be playing at such a great club.”
Sam will hope she can remain involved and in a positive frame of mind heading into the league campaign when that opener against Accrington comes around on Sunday.