Lady Clarets off mark at first attempt

On target: Emily Wilkinson and Becky Hayton
On target: Emily Wilkinson and Becky Hayton

Goals from former Padiham duo Becky Hayton (2) and Emily Wilkinson, together with a star performance from midfielder Charlotte Hartley, helped Burnley Ladies to a 3-1 victory in their opening game of the season against City of Manchester.

The lady Clarets were sluggish in the early exchanges and conceded after only three minutes. Keeper Sophie Valentine deflected a long-range effort over the bar, but the resulting in-swinging corner deceived everyone to give Manchester the lead.

Burnley gradually gained the initiative, Wilkinson and Danni Cooper testing the City keeper following creative approach work by the wily Justine Wallace. Overlapping full back Claire Collins repeatedly troubled the City defence with her raids down the left wing.

Parity was achieved in the 25th minute with a flowing move that left the City defence floundering.

Full back Becca Sidley, gained possession in the Burnley half and played a precise left-footed pass to Wallace on the right. Wallace arrowed an early cross into the area, where Cooper deftly laid the ball back to Wilkinson to drive low into the net from 18 yards.

Burnley almost gained the lead before the break, the tireless Hartley going close after a clever approach play from Jo Rohman.

The Clarets surged in front shortly after the interval, Cooper slipping Hayton clear on goal, and the striker made no mistake, coolly slotting the ball home.

Hayton repeated the feat in the 55th minute to make it 3-1, Rohman this time in the role of provider.

City rallied, and only resolute defending from centre backs Leah Hart and skipper Jo Holt repelled the aerial bombardment.

When the Mancunian striker eluded the off-side flag, the pace of Sidley retrieved the situation, enabling her to steal the ball off the toe of the forward.

So a successful start to the campaign for the lady Clarets as they strive to improve on last season’s mid-table finish.

Meanwhile, the Burnley FC Ladies Development squad also tasted victory in their first game in the LFA Ladies’ League Division Two, achieving an excellent victory over local rivals Barrowford Celtic.

Manager Aidy Lamb and coach Gareth Martindale were very impressed by the performance.