Despite the boost of a second minute goal and a strong performance after the interval, Reds Ladies fell to a decent Preston side in a Division One North fixture.
North End took to the heavy Derwent Park pitch in those famous white shirts, two points ahead of Reds in the table.
There were a number of changes to Paul Mackenzie’s side, as they returned to action for the first time in three weeks, with Hannah Fawkes making her debut in the back four.
And the best possible start saw Reds open the scoring with just two minutes on the clock. Emi Rudd (inset) broke clear down North End’s right-hand side, chopped the ball inside the last defender and forced the ball home past ‘keeper, Justine Elliott, for a well taken goal.
But Preston turned the game on its head with an impressive recovery over a twenty-five-minute purple patch in the first half.
They were only behind for ten minutes before Madison Hadley equalised with a fine solo effort and the talented striker was involved in all three goals for the visitors.
It was Hadley who was fouled inside the area by Reds’ skipper, Naomi Foster, mid-way through the first half with Freya Hunt converting the subsequent penalty to give her side the lead.
And the goal of the match in the thirty-seventh minute gave them a two-goal advantage as half time approached. Great passing play between Hadley and Olvia Askham culminated in a clever one-two before the former finished in style.
It was an uphill task for Reds as they battled against the elements in the second half yet they were camped in North End territory for long spells and emerged with great credit.
Their general play was strong and cohesive but a second goal eluded them and a combination of bad luck and good game management by North End resulted in the latter claiming the points.
Chloe Henderson was inspirational for the hosts with several others catching the eye in a performance that deserved a better outcome.
Team: Miller, Hooper, Foster, Fawkes, MacDonald, Henderson, Douglas, Donaldson, Ritchie, Rudd, McGrady. Substitutes – Geen, Birkett, Kemp, Bragg, Ivison.