Middlesbrough Women FC v Burnley FC Women

FA WNL Premier Division North

Billingham Town FC Ground

Sunday 8th September 2019

Ten points from twelve reflects a great start for Burnley FC Women but Sunday’s game against Middlesbrough Women had many twists and turns, as the Clarets Women hit the woodwork three times and Middlesbrough failed to score from the spot. Both teams had good chances throughout but the Clarets built up a 3-0 advantage that was almost overturned when Middlesbrough Women staged a late comeback, forcing the Clarets to defend hard in the latter stages before claiming all three points.

Ahead of the game the fitness of a number of players was in doubt and so manager Matt Bee reorganised his squad and drafted in Leanne Prescott for her debut appearance. The Clarets made a good start and confidence levels were soon raised as an early effort troubled the Middlesbrough defence and a shot by Sarah Greenhalgh ricocheted off the bar.

The Clarets continued in fine form but suffered a scare when a shot tested keeper Lauren Bracewell who saved down at her right post as the home team grew into the game. Further attacks forced the Clarets defence into goal-mouth blocks, while a few shots flew wide of the goal.

An attack on the home goal by Greenhalgh won a corner. It was launched to the near post where Lizzy Hamer headed at goal and hit the bar, the ball fell to a defender but Levi Rathburn leaped at the chance and shot into the net before she could clear, 1-0.

Before the break, Kenedy Owen struck a free kick forcing the home keeper to tip over the bar. Almost on the half-time whistle, a Middlesbrough striker chipped just over the Clarets bar.

A spirited start in the second period by Middlesbrough had the Clarets on the back foot. A goal was disallowed when the officials spotted the offside position of the scorer and a shot skimmed the crossbar. An awkward bounce of the ball that hit the arm of Burnley defender Leanne Prescott, marring an otherwise superb first team debut, saw the referee point to the spot but Bracewell read the mind of the taker and stayed upright to collect the spot kick in her arms.

The Clarets regrouped, Greenhalgh ran in on goal and shot forcing a block by the keeper and soon an interception by Kenedy Owen and her neatly threaded ball to Greenhalgh caused some desperate defending where Greenhalgh was cut down just outside the box. Owen stepped up for the kick, neatly shooting under the defensive wall as they jumped to score the Clarets’ second goal.

The home side were being frustrated and started shooting from distance. Bracewell was not troubled but then a goal-mouth shot resulting from a corner saw Bracewell well positioned to save.

Owen was on hand again to interplay with Greenhalgh and her fine pass through set Greenhalgh on a scoring run shooting past the keeper. 3-0.

The end to end play continued though the Clarets had the better chances with Greenhalgh causing difficulties in the home side’s defence. Hamer was unfortunate to see her hard shot hit the crossbar.

With less than seven minutes remaining it seemed the Clarets would easily see out the game but a home side raid down their right wing and a superbly hit shot by winger Tyler Dodds cut through the Clarets’ defence to claw a goal back.

The home side desperately wanted something to show for their efforts and continued to pressure the Clarets’ goal, but a breakout almost extended the Clarets lead as Evie Priestley saw her shot hit the post in injury time. Middlesbrough exploited the rebound and quickly broke up-field. A long ball to Dodds saw her cut through the Clarets’ defence again to score in the final minute of extra time. Final score 3-2 to the Clarets.

After four league games Burnley FC Women are in third position in the FA Women’s National League Premier North. The teams above have only a better goal difference.

Next Sunday, Burnley FC Women play Hindley Juniors in the preliminary round of the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup. Kick-off is 2pm at Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena.