Lilywhites Women now 10 points clear at top

Gemma Watson, who scored the third goal
Gemma Watson, who scored the third goal
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Preston North End Women are 10 points clear at the top of the FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division after a 3-0 victory against Sporting Club Albion at Leigh Sports Village.

A straight red card shown to Albion right-winger Leigh Dugmore for kicking out at Alice Forshaw in the 53rd minute opened the game up for PNE, as they scored only seven minutes later through Danielle Young.

Chelsea Flanagan and Gemma Watson later added to the scoreline on their return to the starting XI.

There were five changes to the starting line-up after a 1-1 draw with Guiseley, with Jenna Carroll, Forshaw, Katie Brusell, Watson and Flanagan all coming back into the side.

Chances were few and far between in the early stages of the game as both sides looked to settle on the 3G surface.

Sporting’s Abigail Cottam threatened Dan Brown’s goal on the 17th minute but her shot had no power behind it and eased its way the North End keeper.

Two minutes later and the visitors’ centre-back Kelly Clarke came close to scoring with a header inside the penalty area, but her bullet header was wide.

PNE had their first shot on target with 28 minutes on the clock. Brusell and Flanagan combined but Brusell could only produce a weak shot on Rebecca Thomas’ goal, which she saved well.

Albion substitute Hazzana Parnell came on for the injured Billie Haynes, and almost made an immediate impact.

The ball fell to Parnell after some good passing by the away side but Brown closed down the angle and saved her low shot.

Four minutes later, Parnell came close to scoring again.

But her tame shot rolled wide when she really should have at least hit the target.

Watson had the best chance of the first half on 44 minutes.

Brusell skipped past two Albion defenders before crossing to the back post and finding Watson, who fired over the bar.

PNE almost made the perfect start to the second half as Charlotte Farrell rose high to get on the end of an inswinging corner but her header rattles the crossbar.

Then came the defining moment of the game with Dugmore kicking out and referee Lewis Otto went straight to his pocket and without any hesitation showed her the red card.

With Albion down to ten players it left the door open for PNE to take advantage.

Watson weaved around two challenges before unleashing a shot which came back off the bar for Young to volley in from inside the six-yard-box.

North End doubled their lead through Flanagan in the 63rd minute. Young’s 
right-footed cross to the back post was headed home by Flanagan on her comeback from injury.

Watson grabbed the third goal with a shot from the edge of the Albion penalty area, which was deflected past Thomas.

Flanagan came close to adding a fourth goal in the dying seconds from Brusell’s left-wing cross.

PRESTON NORTH END: Brown, Westerman, Forshaw, Carroll, Farrell, Walker (Swarbrick 80), H. Forster, Young, Watson, Brusell, Flanagan, Subs (not used): Makin, White

SPORTING CLUB ALBION: Thomas, Clarke, Darby, Highman (Wright 80), Poole, Greaves, Conroy, Holmes, Cottam, Dugmore, Haynes (Parnell 26) (Robinson 68). Subs (not used): Edmunds, Dicken