Preston North End’s rise up the FA Women’s Premier League continued in a Christmas cracker against Newcastle United, which they romped 4-0.
Kim Turner’s 43rd-minute goal was all that separated the sides at the break after a close encountered first half.
Two early goals after the break from Gemma Watson sent the home side on their way, and a late goal from Chelsea Flanagan sealed a seventh straight competitive win.
Boss Luke Swindlehurst was forced into an early selection change before kick off.
In-form Lagan Makin was originally on the team sheet but missed out due to illness and was replaced by Kim Turner in a more central midfield role.
Flanagan delivered the first threatening ball into the Newcastle box, finding Danielle Young but the pressure from the away defenders was enough to block any serious attempt on Wareham’s goal.
PNE’s Watson then squeezed a right-footed shot on target, forcing a good save out of Wareham in the Newcastle goal.
Laura Walker’s delivery from the left wing picked out Young inside the penalty area once again but she could only divert the ball straight at the goalkeeper.
It was three minutes later when Charlotte Farrell’s header down inside the penalty area found Turner with her back to the defenders.
But she managed to coolly slot the ball into the away goal, following a corner in from Young on 43 minutes.
Whatever Swindlehurst said to his team at half-time worked.
Watson came out after the break, all guns blazing. She managed to find the net just five minutes into the half after pouncing on a loose ball, and keeping her composure to make it 2-0, following a driven ball in from Flanagan that slipped under the goalkeeper.
Two minutes later and Watson added another. Once again she kept her composure as she was left one on one with the Wareham, before finishing expertly.
Newcastle tried to find a way back in the final 20 minutes, heading narrowly wide of Brown’s post before more good play down the right led to a lob over the keeper, but it clipped the left hand post and bounced wide.
But all that late attacking play from the away side left spaces in the defence for North End to exploit.
It was Flanagan that was played through one on one with Wareham. She confidently dummied the keeper before executing a chip to round off the scoring after 84 minutes.
There was one last chance for the Magpies to score in the dying minutes, but Jenna Carroll’s header off the line maintained North End’s clean sheet.
That win means Swindlehurst’s side move up to second, three points behind Nottingham Forest and with a game in hand.
Swindlehurst said: “We were confident that we could get another win to keep the momentum going, once we got the first goal.
“This was a game that we had to be fully focused for 90 minutes, and it was pleasing we managed to do that with another clean sheet.”
Opening goalcorer Turner said: “We settled after the first goal but once they started to tire we just kept our composure and started keeping possession and it came.
“We’ve been doing it throughout the season. We’re excited and want to win the league but we never talk about it.”
Preston: Brown, Stanfield, Forshaw, Carroll, Farrell, Turner, Walker, H. Forster (P.Forster 66), Young, Watson, Flanagan. Sub (not used): Savage
Newcastle United: Wareham, McKenzie, McNaught (Smith 30), Lock, Brooks, Round, Turnball, Lambert, Clark (Bassnett 22), Dobson, Gardener. Sub (not used): Stevens