BLACKBURN Rovers go into their final game of the Women’s Premier League Northern Division season against Preston North End at the UCLan Sports Arena tonight (7.30pm) in the knowledge they are safe from relegation.
Rovers went down 5-1 to Stoke City on Sunday, leaving them fearful their fight for survival would go down to the final match.
But rock-bottom Leeds United’s failure to win at Derby County meant they were condemned to the drop.
Rovers started brightly at the Britannia Stadium and the outcome may have been different had Nicky Emery and Amanda Goodwin tucked away early chances.
But there was no way after Jamilla Palmer plundered a five-minute hat-trick to put Stoke firmly in control.
The third-placed Potters, courtesy of a fantastic free kick from Chantelle Gallagher, added a fourth before the first half was out before Rio Hardy reduced the arrears by hammering in a cross from Emery.
Gemma Donnelly’s side pushed forward in search of further goals.
But that left them open at the back and they conceded again when Jodie Foxhall netted.
Rovers boss Donnelly said: “The scoreline wasn’t a fair reflection of the game but we can’t play for 45 minutes and expect to come away with a result.
“It’s disappointing to see a great club like Leeds, with such huge history in the women’s game, to be relegated. Like us, they have tried to rebuild their squad and have relied on youth, but it’s just not worked for them.
“But from our perspective, we can breathe a sigh of relief and we have an opportunity now to go into the final game of the season against Preston with no pressure on us.
“We can enjoy our football and it provides another opportunity for some of our Centre of Excellence graduates to be involved.”