FA Women’s National League – Premier North Division
Sunderland AFC Ladies v Burnley FC Women
Academy of Light, Sunderland
Sunday 20th September 2020
Burnley FC Women began their season with the best possible start, achieving a superb 2-1 win against last season’s run-away team Sunderland AFC Ladies. New signing, Katie Thomas, made her mark in the game with a stunning strike to open the scoring, and Sarah Agger reinstated the Clarets’ lead with a shot driven into the top corner.
The game, played behind closed doors at the Academy of Light, presented significant challenges to the Claret Women, after a disrupted pre–season build up and facing the toughest of opponents to contend with. Burnley FC Women found their form and restricted the home team advances during the more difficult periods of the game, piling pressure on their opponents, to gain the deserved victory, late in the game.
The Clarets started strong and Thomas was quickly making her mark on the game as she struck a 20-yard shot narrowly wide of the top corner. Thomas continued to prove her worth in the early stages as she tussled with a defender and then cut through on goal, but again, shot slightly wide before Sarah Agger maintained the pressure with a shot from a Lizzy Hamer cross.
After ten minutes, Sunderland started to turn the tables and had the Clarets defence working tirelessly to protect their goal. Sunderland eventually found an opening to drive a powerful shot that had Clarets Keeper, Lauren Bracewell, at full stretch to turn the ball around her post. By the midpoint of the half both teams were pressing the other. Sunderland’s star player, Abbey Joice, tested Bracewell with a shot that was nicely saved and in reply Sarah Agger hit a shot that had the Sunderland keeper stretching to save.
Thomas opened the scoring for Burnley FC Women with one of the most sublime efforts. She spotted an opportunity and took a wonder strike from 40 yards that dipped into the top corner, leaving the keeper with no chance. The Clarets had further efforts, narrowly missing the target when Kenedy Owen created a chance for herself but shot just over, and Kerry Hope broke through but shot slightly wide.
Sunderland were determined to turn the tide but found Nic Worthington, Cara Bickett, Olivia Wilson and Olivia Greenhalgh blocking their attempts to equalise.
After the break, Sunderland were quick to get back on the offensive. Bracewell was again tested with a shot, then Sunderland gained several corners and free kicks. Hamer, who had been working hard in the midfield throughout the game was linking well with Thomas to keep hopes alive for a second goal. However, another free kick was awarded by the referee when he adjudged a foul had occurred just outside the Clarets’ 18-yard box. Sunderland’s Emily Scarr stepped up and arrowed the kick over the wall, out of Bracewell’s reach. 1-1.
Hamer thought she had restored the lead with a shot over the keeper, but the officials ruled that not all the ball had crossed the line. Soon, Hamer was in action again, this time threading a ball through the home sides defence for Agger to collect in a wide position. Agger drove in towards goal and shot high into the top corner past the advancing keeper to recover the Clarets’ lead. 1-2.
In a nervy end to the game, Bracewell calmly claimed a couple of corners and stood firm to collect when another corner found the head of Sunderland striker, Ramshaw.
Final Score: Sunderland AFC Women 1 – 2 Burnley FC Women.