West Ham United Ladies suffered a 1-0 FA Women’s Premier League Plate defeat at Preston North End on Sunday.
Hammers goalkeeper Nikita Runnacles had kept the visitors in the game on several occasions throughout, but she could do nothing to keep out Chelsea Flanagan’s 80th-minute winner.
Julian Dicks’ side were looking to book their second cup final in as many weeks after their 2-0 London FA Capital Women’s Cup semi-final victory away to Queens Park Rangers the previous Sunday.
However, Dicks was forced into making three changes ahead of kick-off, with the unavailable Nikki Duncan and Kelley Blanchflower being replaced by Runnacles and Adele Sale. Jade Smith also dropped to the bench, giving Lily Mellors a starting role.
After making the long trip to Lancashire, Dicks would have been hoping for some early inspiration from his side, but the visitors failed to threaten the hosts’ back line in the opening minutes.
The remainder of the opening half continued in similar fashion, with Runnacles needing to be at her best to keep the game level.
Preston did let slip and allow the Hammers a chance just after the hour-mark, but after latching onto a weak backpass from Alison Taberner, striker Vicky Kinsman was closed down and denied by Danielle Brown.
With 80 minutes on the clock, Flanagan booked the Lilywhites a ticket to the final against Huddersfield Town Ladies when she controlled the ball well and finally found a way past Runnacles.
The Hammers will hope to pick up a more positive result on Sunday 8 March when they make another long trip down to Plymouth Ladies in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division.