Burnley FC Ladies 4, Blackpool WR 4
A DETERMINED second half fightback was not quite enough to get Burnley Ladies through to the semi-final of the Lancashire Challenge Cup, as they lost to Blackpool Wren Rovers in a penalty shoot-out.
The Clarets opened brightly. Midfielder Jo Rohman bamboozled her marker with an elegant turn and would have sent Laura Hesketh clear but for a late interception. A free kick from Vicky Smith‘s cultured left foot caused havoc in the Blackpool box, and Hayley Newham tried her luck with a long range effort which sailed over.
Burnley opened the scoring on 14 minutes when Kelly Ronson threaded a perfect ball to Hesketh, who tricked her way down the right wing before delivering a low cross for Em Forrest to finish.
But in the space of 15 minutes, Blackpool seized control of the game with three quick-fire goals, leaving a stunned Burnley 3–1 down at the interval.
The Clarets pulled one back after the break as Rohman delivered an exquisite pass to winger Lucie Berwick, whose cross found Hesketh, who swivelled and rifled her shot low into the net.
Blackpool restored their two-goal advantage with a break-away goal, but inspirational captain Jo Holt entered the fray on the hour and immediately Burnley raised the tempo.
Hesketh’s lightening pace enabled her to reach a hopeful throughball, take it around the keeper, and find the net from a tight angle.
Trailing 4-3 with 20 minutes remaining, Burnley went on all-out attack in search of the equaliser, although their quest for a fourth goal left spaces at the back and at times their goal led a charmed existence.
One Blackpool effort struck the bar, and a goalmouth scramble would have led to a Blackpool clincher, but for a brave block by full-back Becky Sidley and a tremendous right-handed save from keeper Emily Rogers.
As the match moved into stoppage time, Burnley won a corner. A great delivery from Holt was made-to-measure for Hesketh who completed her hat-trick with a header from six yards to earn a penalty shoot-out.
Although losing 4-3 in the penalty lottery, the Burnley Ladies can take confidence from their fightback and the imminent return of some key players.