Georgia Parkinson and Liv Askam kept the women’s team’s unbeaten streak in 2022 intact with a 3-1 victory away against Carlisle United Ladies.
The Lilywhites got off to the perfect start after seven minutes with forward Askam rifling the ball into the back of the net as Carlise were unable to deal with a Katie Woodhead corner.
The Lilywhites had the upper hand for much of the first half and piled on the pressure, particularly with the ball in behind the defence.
Liv Askam had some chances as well setting her team-mates up for others, with Lucy Swift breaking through but seeing her shot kept out by the Carlisle ‘keeper, while Abbie Jones worked her way into the box well but her attempt was blocked by the last defender.
Although it was the Lilywhites who had the stronger start and more chances that didn’t prevent the home side from having a few attempts too.
They attacked down the left-hand side well but again the end product just wasn’t there for them either. Their best chance of the half came from a free-kick on the left hand side of the box with a shot floating over everyone’s heads but without enough curve to find the corner.
The second half began with formation change for the Lilywhites are they shifted from their usual 4-4-2, to a more attacking 3-5-2.
With the Lilywhites pressing high and trying to double their advantage, they were left vulnerable for a counter attack on occasion, which Carlisle looked to capitalise on.
A quick break off a North End corner resulted in a last ditch tackle from the defence bringing down the Carlisle striker right on the edge of the 18-yard box. Carlisle took advantage of the opportunity, placing the ball over the wall and into the right-hand corner to equalise.
The Lilywhites moved up a gear from that point and set pieces were key from there on. With corner after corner, they drew closer to finding their second of the game but their efforts were just off target or smothered by the goalkeeper.
Forwards Rachelle Smith and Charlotte Greenwood both had opportunities for their team but Smith’s first time effort went over the crossbar, while Greenwood’s effort to get through one-on-one drew a last minute tackle from the Carlisle defence to clear.
With just over 20 minutes remaining, Katie Woodhead had a free-kick blocked, which immediately led to another free-kick as Parkinson was fouled looking to tee herself up to shoot. Parkinson stepped up for the resulting free-kick and her effort cleared the wall and proved too much for the goalkeeper, resulting in a much-needed second goal to reinstate their lead.
North End looked hungry for more and Parkinson’s determination in particular not to settle for the 2-1 scoreline helped them to double their advantage.
Much like a repeat of the opening goal Carlisle were unable to clear a Woodhead corner as the ball landed fortuitously for Parkinson to hammer the loose ball into the net and make sure of the points.
After the game, first team coach David Rawcliffe said: “Overall I’m pleased with the performance. We started off well and got the early goal, which is always a bonus.
“We definitely dominated possession throughout the half and were able to move the ball well, creating many chances, but they just didn’t fall for us in the final third. At points I think as a side we did allow the tempo to drop, which allowed Carlisle a few good chances to get themselves back in the game.
“We made a few changes at half-time and asked for the team to up their energy levels a bit and keep the pressure on their back line. Unfortunately, we did concede a goal but the girls bounced back from it excellently and professionally.
“Once we got that second goal we could see a shift in mentality and the players were eager to press and look for another goal to secure the win, which we thankfully got through Georgia.
“It was a hard fought three points but it keeps our streak running, which is pleasing, and builds the team’s morality. We have some tough games coming up but I think we are in good form at the moment, so we are looking forward to the challenge.”