Burnley FC Women v Chorley FC Women

FA WNL Division 1 North

The Arbories, Ruby Civil Arena – Padiham FC

Sunday 5th May 2019

There was no let-up in Burnley FC Women’s preparations ahead of their final game of the season and Lancashire derby against Chorley FC Women. The Clarets Women already had enough points to claim the League title and were champions in waiting, but the game was a landmark event for both teams and was played with determination and it maintained a competitive edge until the final whistle when the Clarets claimed a slender 1-0 win.

Ahead of the game the Chorley players provided a Guard of Honour for the Clarets as they walked onto the pitch and both teams undertook a minute’s applause in appreciation and respect for the mother of Chorley player Ellie Mills, who passed away earlier in the week.

The game also had significance for Clarets players Justine Wallace and Lynette Craig who have announced they are leaving to play at a less demanding level. Both have a wealth of experience and Wallace who is aged 45 and vice-captain has been a great asset in helping the team achieve new potential in recent seasons. Chorley’s Janet Dawson also announced her retirement and played in this, her last game.

Burnley started strongly with both Sarah Greenhalgh and Leah Embley charging down the right wing and delivering crosses into the box providing Vikki Eastwood and Lynette Craig with early chances. Chorley though were well organised in defence and effectively snuffed out the Clarets chances.

In a half where the Clarets had the lion’s share of possession there were precious few openings on goal. Greenhalgh had the good chance when she headed on a through ball before trying to chip over the Chorley goalkeeper Rachel Darbyshire from an angle, but the ball landed narrowly wide and Wallace struck from 22 yards but Darbyshire easily saved from above.

In the final minutes of the half the Clarets had to defend as Chorley made a late impact on the game. A couple of corners and a free kick on the edge of the box were contained and the teams went into the break goalless.

The second half had more in the way of exciting play. The Clarets quickly made an impact when Embley fed across the box to Priestley who shot at goal hitting the post, as the ball remained in play Greenhalgh was fouled on the edge of the area. Vikki Eastwood stepped up for the kick which she lofted over the defensive wall but again Darbyshire neatly caught from just under the bar.

Pressure was maintained on the visitor’s goal and soon Lynette Craig launched a corner that dropped onto the six-yard line where Sammy Fleck made the all-important contact that directed the ball into the net, 1-0.

Chorley responded to the deficit and were soon pressurising the Clarets defence. Danni Cooper superbly intercepted in front of goal to protect and clear the threats.

Greenhalgh came close to increasing the lead when she cleverly intercepted a ball on the edge of the Chorley area and ran at goal. Darbyshire quickly closed her down and blocked her shot and the ball was cleared. Then later Embley weaved her way into the box but was undone when a defender skilfully got a foot on the ball to clear the danger.

The final twenty minutes of the game proved to be quite tense as Chorley started to exert pressure. Chorley’s Lisa Topping shot at goal as Clarets captain Jo Holt closed to tackle. Claims for a penalty were ignored by the referee as the ball appeared to hit her arm at close range. Further pressure by the visitors was alleviated by Cooper who again made key defensive interceptions.

The Clarets responded, and Emily Wilkinson had the ball in the net after Greenhalgh passed through, but it was disallowed as the liner spotted an offside infringement. Then Embley attacked down the right and shot from an angle but did not connect cleanly and Darbyshire collected easily. Similarly Topping was well positioned in the Clarets area and her shot lacked direction so Bracewell also saved easily.

In the final minute a Chorley free kick passed through in front of the Clarets goal narrowly out of reach of Topping and two minutes into injury time another free kick hit the Clarets post as players again tried to intercept.

The final score of 1-0 rounds off another remarkable season for Burnley FC Women, who finish 13 points clear of their nearest rival in the league.

After the game the Clarets were presented with the Division 1 North League Trophy and individual medals by Amanda Cummings from the FA Women’s National League.

Photos credited to Keith Hamer Photography.