This wasn’t the home coming Reds Ladies were hoping for as they fell to a surprise defeat to Division One North’s bottom side, Sir Tom Finney.
After a demanding sequence of eight consecutive away games, they returned to Derwent Park for their first home game in over three months.
Both teams came into the fixture on the back of heavy defeats – Reds losing 5-0 at Blackpool last week and the Preston side suffering a 9-0 hammering at Accrington – so the opportunity was there to make amends.
And, after overcoming Sir Tom Finney emphatically in the away game, Reds would have been hopeful of completing a league double.
They enjoyed plenty of possession and created enough chances but failed to score before pressing the self-destruct button to gift the plucky visitors an unexpected victory.
The Preston outfit opened the scoring after seventeen minutes and, once in front, their confidence grew as Reds’ frustration increased.
The home side lost possession cheaply deep in their own half and the lively Alex Porter took full advantage. She advanced towards goal and finished confidently beyond the stranded Laura Miller.
Reds responded well and went in search of an equaliser but Morgan McGrady’s shot cleared the crossbar then Liv Bennett was thwarted twice by goalkeeper Issy Brand who would emerge a competent performer for the visitors.
Then, with half-time approaching, Reds got themselves in another defensive tangle and enabled the opposition to cash-in again. Eve Walker took full advantage of the mix-up and lobbed the ball into the net from thirty-five yards.
Some dubious offside decisions didn’t help the hosts but the performance was a little below par.
The second half was one of frustration with some good approach play wasted in the final third.
Bennett came closest to reducing the arrears but a firm shot was well saved by ‘keeper, Brand.
Other opportunities for a consolation goal were squandered and the visitors were good value for the victory overall.
With several key players already side-lined, Reds’ frustration was compounded when long-serving Chloe Henderson was carried off injured.
Team: Laura Miller, Alice Kemp, Naomi Foster, Linzi Donaldson, Nat Hooper, Chloe Henderson, Sophie Douglas, Hannah Geen, Emi Rudd, Morgan McGrady, Liv Bennett. Substitutes – Hannah Fawkes, Hannah Ridgewell, Kacey Rodgers, Issy Sunley, Sydney Bragg (all used).