Burnley FC Women v Brighouse Town LFC

FA WNL North Division 1

The Arbories Memorial Sports Ground – Padiham FC

Sunday 25th November 2018

Burnley FC Women reinforced their top of the table position with a slender victory over second placed Brighouse Town LFC. The only goal of the game by Sarah Greenhalgh means the Clarets now have a six-point cushion and should maintain their standing through the Christmas period.

Team manager Matt Bee commented after the game “Our structure was solid, and we maintained another clean sheet. I can’t ask anymore from this group of players. Together we will keep moving forward one game at a time”.

A determined start to the game by Brighouse pressured the Clarets into a defensive position. Brighouse won a corner which was headed clear by Lizzy Hamer, but they picked up possession again and the Clarets defence worked hard to contain the threat in a nervy few minutes.

When the Clarets did finally break out Brighouse quickly recovered in defence and headed a Sarah Greenhalgh cross clear. Justine Wallace collected the loose ball and shot at goal from 25 yards, the ball skied over the bar, though it served to settle the Clarets into the game.

Nicola Shirtcliffe paced forward at speed from her defensive role to mount another Clarets attack and a freekick was awarded when Greenhalgh was tripped on a forward run as the game turned in the Clarets favour. Wallace floated the free kick over the wall, but the keeper collected before any strikers could intercept. The Clarets were quick to recover possession and soon Wallace was on the ball again skipping wide of a marker and releasing a left foot shot that arrowed up and rattled the crossbar as the keeper struggled to cover it.

The game flowed end to end and Brighouse were awarded a free kick just outside the Clarets 18-yard box. A well struck shot forced Lauren Bracewell to tip over the bar. The Clarets resumed their pressure on the Brighouse goal before the visitors played a long ball out to set striker Charlotte Proud on a counter attack. She ran wide of the Clarets defenders and shot forcing Bracewell into a smart save.

Late in the half Lizzy Hamer had the best of the late chances for the Clarets. She received a cross ball and was able to drive in on goal and shot forcing a diving save from the visiting keeper.

The second half of the game became a battle of determination. Early on the Clarets won a corner and Sammy Fleck ran to intercept the cross at the near post. Her shot was deflected narrowly wide and the Brighouse keeper took a knock that she received lengthy treatment for.

When play restarted Brighouse responded and again put forward pressure on the Clarets. Their attempts to gain the lead often resulted in them retreating quickly as the Clarets won possession and mounted counter attacks where the slope of the pitch was now to their advantage. Player of the match Leah Embley created space in the danger zone to fire a shot that flew over the bar and shortly afterwards Lizzy Hamer played a through ball to pick out a well-placed Vikki Eastwood who drove at the keeper but shot narrowly wide in what was a big let off for Brighouse but one which would be short lived.

The Clarets opened the scoring when Wallace won a header in midfield and Embley collected and quickly slotted the ball through to Greenhalgh. She drove at goal and took a shot on her left foot as a defender tried to intercept and the keeper closed in, but she was decisive, and the ball struck the back of the net.

Brighouse pushed forward in an attempt to find an equaliser but were met with determined and formidable defending and could not find the space to break through on goal and were becoming frustrated. Charlotte Banner was blocking many build ups ahead of the Clarets defence. A shot from distance that raised high above the bar was the visitor’s best effort in the middle section of the half.

Embley and Greenhalgh both troubled the Brighouse defence with the best effort going to Greenhalgh when she shot hard from the corner of the box forcing the keeper to make an outstretched diving save.

In the final 15 minutes Brighouse mounted a strong recovery winning corners, had a close-range shot that was narrowly wide, and Bracewell saved close to her post in a goal mouth melee.

The Clarets had chances also, Greenhalgh forced an above head save and Embley continued to cause trouble close to the visitor’s goal but at the final whistle the Clarets were able to celebrate a strategic win that resulted from a strong determined team effort.

Burnley FC Women were also proud to be one of the FA Women’s National League clubs supporting the 2018 Rainbow Laces campaign on the day. Aiming to make football everyone’s game, the squad wore rainbow laces in their boots and joined Stonewall’s social media campaign to demonstrate Burnley FC Women is an active ally to LGBT people.

Burnley FC Women take a break next week but are back in league action in two weeks at Chorley’s Victory Park ground. Kick-off 2pm.