Burnley FC Women v Derby County.

FA WNL Premier Division North

The Arbories, Ruby Civil Arena – Padiham FC

Sunday 18th August 2019

Two goals by Levi Rathburn and a late Sarah Greenhalgh penalty gave Burnley FC Women a hard earned but deserved win in an epic game against a very tough Derby County Ladies team.

The Clarets women had to claw back from a two goal first half deficit inflicted by the then dominant Derby County Ladies to turn the tide of the game and achieve a momentous start to the season.

During the summer, team manager Matt Bee significantly refreshed the squad and achieved a successful pre-season run of games. However, the challenge presented by Derby County who finished last season in joint second place on points, presented a difficult test and potentially calamitous result.

In the event the Clarets started in competitive form. New players Kelly Halligan and Levi Rathbun quickly impacted on the flanks and Nicola Worthington, Kerry Hope, Olivia Wilson and Cara Bickett in defence. Derby slowly started to cause problems with long balls lofted into the Clarets final third. A failure to clear one of these resulted in a ball across goal that was struck at the post by Derby’s newly signed striker Hannah Keryakoplis. The Clarets tried to take the game to Derby but were undone by another through ball to another new Derby signing and player of the match Ellie Gilliatt who sprinted towards the Clarets goal and shot wide of keeper Lauren Bracewell.

Ten minutes later Derby were 2-0 up when another ball lofted high across the pitch was neatly controlled by Gilliatt. This time her cross in front of goal was cleanly stuck in by Keryakoplis.

The Clarets were not giving up under the pressure. Soon Halligan was pressing at goal, but she shot wide and captain Sarah Greenhalgh won a corner from another dangerous run at goal. The corner was launched in and was headed hard at goal by Nicola Worthington. The goalkeeper saved but Rathburn was on hand to slot the rebound in at the far post. In the closing minutes of the half Bracewell saved with her out-stretched leg as Keryakoplis was again running in on goal.

With the second half underway Derby again picked up the momentum but were not finding the long ball forward as threatening as the Clarets defended well. A forward ball from the Clarets was flicked on by Kenedy Owen into the path of Rathburn. She ran towards goal and shot striking a defender with the ball which then defected into goal to level the score.

Rathburn was close to getting a hattrick when she chased a through ball from Worthington. She was blocked first by a defender and then the goalkeeper some-way outside her area. Rathburn was sent crashing down but the referee correctly judged the goalkeeper intercepted momentarily earlier.

Greenhalgh collected a misplaced path and was able to run at goal pursued by three defenders who managed to push her wide forcing a shot that was collected by the keeper.

There was excitement at both ends as each team tested the other. Danni Cooper in the Burnley defence made a stunning sliding tackle inside her box to prevent a shooting chance and quickly Halligan broke forward on a long run before shooting wide. Halligan soon chased another ball but found the determined Derby keeper intercepting again outside her area a fraction early.

The Clarets continued to challenge the Derby goal. Greenhalgh floated a ball to Priestley close to the six-yard line. A late challenge by the keeper saw Priestley knocked to the ground and the referee correctly awarded a penalty.

Greenhalgh stepped forward and shot the ball into the roof of the net. 3-2

The final minutes proved somewhat nervy as Derby pushed hard to equalise. It was not to be as the home fans and players were jubilant at the final whistle.

Next Sunday, Burnley FC Women are in League Cup action against Leeds United Ladies at the Leeds United FC training ground, Thorp Arch Wetherby.

Photos credited to: Andy Ford Photography, Keith Hamer Photography