Rovers Ladies ensured that their name would remain on the Lancashire FA Womens Challenge Cup following a 2-1 victory over Preston North End.
Playing in their 13th consecutive final, goals from captain Amie Fleming and Saffron Jordan helped Rovers secure the county crown for the 10th time in the club’s history.
In wet and windy conditions, Rovers started well, but it was Preston who had the game’s first chance – Natasha Flint firing just over from 20 yards out.
A minute later, Ainsley Strickland cut the ball back from the byline to Jordan, who failed to trouble the target.
The first real opening came on the quarter-hour mark. Cara Bickett played a superb crossfield through ball to Ella Toone, but Danielle Brown made a smart save with her legs.
At the other end, Gemma Watson went on a mazy run down the right before pulling the ball back to Yasmine Swarbrick, who blazed over the bar.
The breakthrough finally arrived on 34 minutes. Good link-up play between Lynda Shepherd and Toone saw the ball set back to Fleming, who fired goalwards from 25 yards, Brown tipped the ball onto the underside of the bar, but it wasn’t enough to prevent it from bouncing down over the line.
At the start of the second half, a Jess Holbrook shot from distance was comfortably saved by the Preston keeper and 10 minutes later, Holbrook’s corner from the left fell to Bickett, whose stabbed shot goalwards was cleared off the line. Preston immediately broke down the other end, as Lagan Makin found herself clean through on goal, but Danielle Hill came to Rovers’ rescue.
A carbon copy move then saw Swarbrick through on goal on 65 minutes and this time she made no mistake. After rounding the Rovers keeper, she beat Ellie Cook in a footrace to slide the ball over the line.
With the momentum in their favour, Preston were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead on 74 minutes. Fleming was adjudged to have tripped Danielle Young inside the box, but Flint fired the resultant spot-kick wide of the left-hand post.
Preston were made to pay, as Rovers regained the lead three minutes later. Jess Holbrook played a precise through ball to Jordan, who coolly stroked a shot inside the keeper’s near post.
As Preston pushed for an equaliser, Rovers had a couple of opportunities to put the game to bed late on. On 89 minutes, Fleming somehow headed wide from Leah Foster’s right-wing cross and then the substitute had a chance to get her name on the scoresheet in the fourth minute of added time, but after latching onto Toone’s ball over the top, she sliced her shot horribly wide.
The miss didn’t matter however, as the final whistle soon sounded and Fleming lifted the trophy, much to the delight of the Rovers players, supporters and staff.
ROVERS: Hill, Flynn, Pearson, Cook, Bickett, Holbrook, Shepherd, Fleming, Jordan, Strickland (Foster 71), Toone.
Subs not used: Maher, Taylor, Fenton, Kinvig.