Lady Clarets pegged back by Wigan

STAR PERFORMER: Becca Sidley
STAR PERFORMER: Becca Sidley

DESPITE an outstanding first-half performance, Burnley Ladies had to settle for a share of the points when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Wigan Athletic.

Reinforced by the return of Sarah Tomlinson and Stephanie Meeks, the Clarets were dominant from the kick-off and could have had the game won within the opening 15 minutes.

An in-swinging corner from Jo Rohman caused mayhem in the Wigan six-yard box, and a Meeks cross from the left was met by Hayley Newham, forcing a smart save from the keeper, who was immediately tested again by a thunderous 25-yard drive from Tomlinson.

The fleet-footed Danni Cooper tormented the Wigan defence down the right flank, linking effectively with overlapping full back Becca Sidley. and Meeks and Vicky Smith combined intelligently on the left, peppering the Wigan box with crosses.

Sustained Burnley pressure was rewarded in the 25th minute, a pin-point cross from Meeks finding Tomlinson, who crashed the ball into the roof of the net from 12 yards.

Burnley continued to dictate the game. A superb through-ball from Tomlinson set Rohman free, but her shot was blocked.

The outstanding Tomlinson then set up Meeks, whose curling strike shaved the angle of the goal.

A penetrating 50-yard run from centre-half Jo Holt was thwarted by a desperate tackle on the edge of the Wigan penalty area.

The lady Clarets doubled their lead on 40 minutes, a pin-point pass from Cooper finding Em Forrest, who finished with aplomb, coolly toe-poking the ball past the keeper.

Only a splendid save from the Wigan keeper prevented Burnley from going three up early in the second half when Meeks got on the end of a Rohman cross.

As the second half progressed, for the first time in the game Wigan began to apply pressure to the Burnley goal, but excellent defending from Leah Morrisey denied them any clear-cut chances.

But disaster struck when two lapses of concentration allowed Wigan to gain parity, the first a header from a free kick and the second from a long, hopeful ball through the centre of the Clarets’ defence.

Burnley responded to this setback and a cross from star performer Sidley found Tomlinson, but her rising drive cleared the bar. Forrest dribbled through the Wigan backline and seemed to be impeded in the box but no penalty was awarded.

A wicked free kick from Smith was met by Cooper only for the Wigan keeper to make a point-blank save.

A counter attack in the final minute almost gave Wigan a winning goal, but Clarets’ stopper Sophie Valentine tipped the shot over the bar.

In what was Burnley’s best performance of the season, a Wigan victory would have been a travesty.