A SUPERB headed goal from striker Ainsley Strickland could not prevent Burnley Ladies from suffering defeat when they hosted high-flying Crewe Alexandra.
In a goalless first half, the game was end-to-end with star-performer Em Forrest and the peerless Jo Holt prompting most of Burnley’s chances from midfield.
The speedy Laura Hesketh burst through the centre of the Crewe defence only for the keeper to block her effort with her legs, and Burnley’s best chance came in the 25th minute when a lon free kick from Holt landed at the feet of Hesketh. The Clarets’ top scorer neatly jinked around the keeper, only for her shot to be cleared acrobatically off the line. From the resulting corner the ball fell to Jo Rohman, but her rising drive cleared the bar.
Crewe created chances of their own. A thunderous 25-yard strike was tipped onto the bar by Emily Rogers, and left back, Vicky Smith put in a goal-saving cover tackle when the Crewe striker had evaded the off-side trap. Further tigerish defending from Leah Morrisey and Becky Sidley just managed to repel the Crewe onslaught.
Burnley started the second half strongly, left winger Lucie Berwick combining well with Smith and Hesketh, requiring the Crewe keeper to smartly leave her line to clear the danger. However, the visitors opened the scoring in the 50th minute when a 20-yard free-kick deceived Rogers at her near post. The Burnley backline was under relentless pressure at this stage, young centre-half Olivia Waddington making a deft interception to thwart another attack.
But the Burnley rearguard was pierced again in the 55th minute when the Crewe striker out-paced her marker to shoot low into the net under the keeper.
Five minutes later Burnley’s afternoon deteriorated further when a Crewe corner deflected in to make it 3-0.
The lady Clarets showed immense character and rallied to dominate the last half hour of the match. With inspirational captain, Holt, displaying exemplary determination, Burnley peppered the Crewe goal with substitute Carly Salkeld prominent down the right flank.
Strickland tricked her way across the edge of the penalty area to tee-up Rohman, whose shot faded narrowly wide. Holt’s cross-field pass created another chance for Hesketh, but the striker’s rasping drive cleared the bar.
Burnley’s efforts were justly rewarded with the goal of the game in the 80th minute.
A deep left-footed corner beyond the far post by Berwick was met by Strickland, who rose majestically to power a header past the helpless keeper.
FINAL SCORE: Burnley FC Ladies 1, Crewe Alexandra 3
Burnley Ladies’ next game is tomorrow, when they host Bury Ladies at Bank Hall Ground, kick-off 2 p.m.