Norton & Stockton Ancients LFC 4

Burnley FC Women 5

After building up a four goal first half lead, Burnley FC Women nearly succumbed to a resurgent home side when their lead was cut to a single goal early in the second half.

Two first half goals by Sarah Greenhalgh, a Lynette Craig a penalty and a goal from defender Vikki Eastwood completed the Clarets first half tally. Danni Cooper’s second half strike was critical in maintaining a winning margin as the Clarets defence wobbled against the home side pressure spearheaded by their player of the match Bianca Owens.

Norton & Stockton Ladies were quickly on the attack from the whistle forcing the Clarets to defend a corner and soon after a free Kick, which was well struck and forced keeper Lauren Bracewell to tip over. The Clarets soon broke out though and they opened the scoring in quick style. Vikki Eastwood pushed forward and crossed in-front of goal where Sarah Greenhalgh headed home at the near post.

The Clarets doubled the lead with just five minutes played when Greenhalgh went on a twisting run inside the box and a defender tripped her in front of the referee. A penalty was awarded and was quickly despatched by Lynette Craig.

The home side looked to claw back their unfortunate start and pressed at the Clarets goal where Bracewell and the Clarets defence covered the threats well.

Greenhalgh was proving difficult to contain for the home side’s defence. She tormented them as she raced in-front. An interception by Leah Embley and her nicely weighted pass set Greenhalgh heading towards goal where she flicked wide of the keeper to extend the Clarets lead to 3-0.

In the latter stages of the half the Clarets looked to add further goals. Greenhalgh came close and Evie Priestley threatened with vigour, but it was Eastwood who struck a left foot shot that deceived both her marker and home goalkeeper to give the Clarets a very healthy 4-0 lead.

A final push by the home side before the break forced a hasty back header from Clarets defender Sammy Fleck. Bracewell had to react quickly to pull the ball down to safety.

The second period started well for the Clarets. However, thoughts of extending their lead were dealt a blow on nine minutes when a routine back pass to Bracewell somehow ended up in the back of her own net.

Three minutes later the Clarets conceded a corner with more questionable defending and from it another goal as Bianca Owens cut in at the far post to intercept and shoot home.

The goals kept on coming and the Clarets lead was cut to a single goal when a ball lofted into the Clarets box was met by Owens who headed into the net.

The Clarets were not being overrun by the home team and had chances of their own. Craig and Lizzie Hamer both shot narrowly over and Embley was troubling the home defence. The breakthrough came from a free kick that Craig drove in to the box. The ball ran free and Danni Cooper was on hand to stroke it home and open up a two-goal lead in the final minutes of the game.

The final goal came from a penalty deep in injury time that was awarded to the home team after a trip in the box. Owens stepped up and completed her hat-trick. The final score was 5-4 to the Clarets.

It is another important win for the Clarets in their league title challenge. With six games remaining they have a clear six-point advantage over their nearest title chaser. However, nothing can be taken for granted in a league where all teams are capable of beating their rivals.

Burnley FC Women are back in league action on Sunday 10th March when they entertain Newcastle United Women at Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena. Kick-off is 2pm, entrance is £2 for adults, free for children.