Lady Clarets stay on track for their best-ever finish

Jade Brindle, captain Lora Speak and Hannah Wood
Jade Brindle, captain Lora Speak and Hannah Wood

A comfortable 4-1 victory against Birkenhead consolidated second spot for Burnley Ladies in the North West Regional Women’s Premier League and keeps them on track for their best-ever finish.

The Clarets opened the scoring within 30 seconds of the kick-off with a goal-of-the-season contender involving five players. Silky interplay between Jo Rohman and Justine Wallace released Natalie Bell down the left flank. The winger played a one-two with Katie Halligan, before arrowing a cross into the area where striker Becky Hayton volleyed home from eight yards.

Burnley almost doubled their advantage two minutes later when Halligan romped through the centre of the defence only to see her rising drive clip the top of the bar.

The same player drilled a diagonal pass to Sarah Greenhalgh on the right before racing into the box to head the return ball narrowly wide.

It was 15 minutes before the Merseyside outfit fought their way back into the game with some flowing moves of their own, but their initial efforts were thwarted by alert defending from Paula Duffy and Jo Holt.

But their spirited response was rewarded with an equaliser in the 18th minute when a corner to the far post was emphatically volleyed home.

Burnley regained their lead on the half-hour when Hayton latched on to a long ball from keeper Taylor Gregson; the striker’s first attempt was saved but she converted the rebound.

Moments before the interval it was 3-1, a superb pass from Wallace freeing Halligan to dispatch her shot low past the keeper.

In the second half, Burnley created further chances to extend their lead. A deflected strike by Greenhalgh drew an athletic save. A goal-bound shot from full back Holly Hunter, was blocked by a defender into the path of Simone Keating, whose powerful drive was tipped over the bar. And the foot of the post denied Hayton her hat-trick.

Burnley scored their fourth goal five minutes from time when Em Forrest dispossessed a defender before arrowing a shot into the far corner.

The lady Clarets travel to runaway league leaders Crewe Alexandra on Sunday.

There was more success for the Burnley Ladies’ Development team, who won through to the next round of the LFA Women’s League Cup with a 5-2 win against Penwortham.

The Clarets took the lead through Hannah Wood. Penwortham scored twice early in the second half, but the Clarets responded with a Jade Brindle hat-trick and one from captain Lora Speak.