Blackburn Community Sports Club Ladies FC v Burnley FC Women

Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup, 3rd Round

Queen Elizabeth Grammar School – Harrisons Ground

Sunday 17th November 2019

Burnley FC Women reached the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup with a 6-1 win over Blackburn Community Sports Club Ladies FC.

The score line suggests the Clarets Women had a breeze of a Sunday afternoon against their old local rivals Blackburn Community. With three tiers of the Women’s Football Pyramid now separating the sides the score line also seemed inevitable, but the true fact is that the underdogs were strongly competing for much of the game and could well have come within a whisker of causing an upset.

Blackburn made a good start to the game, notably right-side defender Alison O’Donnell feeding balls through to the enthusiastic strike force. A free kick awarded against the Clarets was driven hard at goal rising as it went. Keeper Lauren Bracewell leaped to tip the ball onto the bar and out for a corner.

Blackburn maintained their effort and were almost rewarded with an opening goal as captain Rebecca McGrath unleashed a rising drive from the edge of the area, once again testing Bracewell’s ability to tip the ball over the bar.

Bracewell was again saviour to the Clarets when she elected to cut out a long ball forward by sprinting out of her area to intercept and clear ahead of a home side striker.

The Clarets first goal was midway in the half when a Sarah Agger cross was defended at the near post. The defender under pressure from Sarah Greenhalgh defected the ball into her own net. Two minutes later the Clarets had a second goal through a corner that was played in by Kerry Hope. Melissa Brown headed smartly over the defence and clear of the keeper.

Blackburn nearly grabbed a goal back when striker Sophie Williams met a cross and headed sturdily at goal only to see the ball fly over the bar.

The Clarets went 3-0 up when Greenhalgh found her way through on goal blocked so she passed back to Agger who struck a powerful shot from 25 yards that arrowed into the net. Blackburn suffered a final misery of the half when a back pass was mis judged and it ended up in the net.

Blackburn made a plucky start to the second half but Greenhalgh soon added to the Clarets tally. First a Kelly Halligan pass through the defence, set Greenhalgh on goal where she shot wide of the advancing keeper. Then a final goal for the Clarets came when Greenhalgh flicked a crossed ball clear into the net.

Blackburn finally got their moment late in the game when they were awarded a penalty after some over enthusiastic defending by Claret Cara Bickett. Amy Bland stepped up for the kick with Bracewell initially making a save but Bland got the loose ball to finish the job.

The win sees Burnley FC Women through to the Semi-finals for the second year running and it is as far as they have ever been in the competition. This season it is more open after thirteen times winners Blackburn Rovers LFC decided not to directly contest the Cup, following their promotion into the FA Women’s Championship.

Last season’s beaten finalists Fylde Women FC have already been knocked out by Bolton Wanderers Ladies who join the Clarets in the semi-final draw along with Chorley FC Women. The fourth team competing will be decided when the postponed game, Wythenshawe Amateurs Women v Sir Tom Finney Women, has been played.

This Sunday, Burnley FC Women are back in league action as they welcome Sheffield FC Women to Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena. Kick-off is 2pm. Admission is £3 for adults and £1 for under 16s.