Slow start costs Burnley Ladies

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BURNLEY Ladies continued their inconsistent start to the season, a below-par first-half performance condemning them to a 3-1 reverse when they visited Wigan Athletic.

The lady Clarets started the match brightly. Nat Smythe sped down the right flank and whipped in a fierce cross along the edge of the 6-yard box that striker Jade Brindle was only inches away from converting. Central midfielder, Em Forrest, threaded a sublime pass through the Wigan backline for Charlotte Hartley only for her goal-bound strike to be blocked.

Disaster struck midway through the first half when a combination of defensive errors and clinical Wigan finishing led to Burnley conceding three goals in a 15-minute period. Aided by a stiff wind at their backs, Wigan were dominant at this point and only sterling defending by Clarets’ skipper Jo Holt prevented them from extending the deficit.

Burnley made three changes at the break, Leah Morrisey, Katy O’Hara and Hayley Newham entering the fray and immediately inspiring a much improved team performance.

A series of penetrating runs from left full back, Vicky Smith, unsettled the Wigan defence. Another made-to-measure pass from Forrest was gathered by Hartley only for her to be thwarted by a brave save from the Wigan keeper.

Holt won a corner when she liberated herself from defensive duties and ran at Wigan’s centre halves. The resulting cross triggered a goal-mouth scramble and when the ball fell to the lively Danielle Cooper she struck a fierce drive narrowly wide of the post.

On the hour a mazy run from Cooper created an opportunity for Jo Rohman but, on her weaker right foot, she dragged her shot wide.

In the 65th minute Burnley’s total dominance was rewarded when Newham’s in-swinging cross from the left was only partially cleared to Morrisey who headed powerfully into the net.

The Clarets continued to press for a second goal and Wigan’s defending became increasingly desperate. An indicator of Burnley’s total second-half ascendancy was that their young keeper, Aimee Smith, did not touch the ball until five minutes from the end of the game. But despite this supremacy, Burnley were unable to find the net again.

If the Burnley Ladies are to challenge at the top of the league table they must maintain their focus and concentration for the full 90 minutes.

FINAL SCORE: Wigan Athletic 3, Burnley Ladies 1