Burnley Ladies maintained second spot in the North West Women’s Regional Premier League, recovering from a goal down to win 3-1 at the City of Manchester.
Previous encounters between the two teams have always been fiercely competitive, so the lady Clarets travelled to the City of Manchester’s Whalley Range ground with some trepidation.
The pitch had some standing water after a night of heavy rain, but this had little effect on the home side, who quickly settled into a smart passing game.
The lady Clarets countered with dogged determination, and neither team were able to pressure the opposition’s goal in the opening 15 minutes.
City of Manchester concentrated on providing through balls to their prolific striker Racheal Dunlop, who was starting to test the speed of the lady Clarets’ response.
On 22 minutes, a counter attack from City of Manchester released Dunlop, who cut in towards the Clarets goal and shot into the far corner to open the scoring.
Spurred on by the disappointment of being a goal down, the Clarets started to play some fluent passing football, and this provided threats on the Manchester goal.
After smart midfield interplay, Emilie Forrest picked out pacy winger Holly Hunter, who sprinted through and tried a chip, only to see the keeper reach high to save the effort.
In the next move, captain Jo Holt won the ball in midfield and passed to Sarah Greenhalgh, who flicked through to striker Becky Hayton, who evaded the offside trap to go one on one with the Manchester stopper, but she hit the ball just wide of the upright.
As the sky turned dark and the weather worsened, some intelligent and determined defending by Paula Duffy stole a golden chance from the feet of the City of Manchester striker.
Duffy made a long touchline pass to Hunter, who sprinted the remainder of the pitch before laying the ball back to Hayton, who struck hard at goal.
The keeper misjudged the speed and flight of the ball in the poor conditions, and was unable to prevent it crossing the goal line.
Soon after the restart, a severe hail storm made the pitch unplayable and the referee had to suspend play.
The players ran for cover to get away from the painful bombardment.
After 15 minutes, the game was restarted on a pitch that was now quite waterlogged.
In the poor conditions, both teams managed to play with an intensity aimed at breaking the other down, and the game flowed end to end.
The Clarets went closest with a Greenhalgh shot that just cleared the bar, but the deadlock was maintained until the break.
In the early stages of the second period, the lady Clarets made repeated raids on the City of Manchester goal.
Greenhalgh, Hayton and the tireless Hunter all created decent chances.
The Manchester outfit were unable to counter with any penetration.
Midway through the half, substitutes Simone Keating and Emma Namba were introduced to freshen up a tiring performance.
The Clarets extended their lead when smart interplay between captain Jo Holt and Lizzie Hamer set Hayton up for another devilish shot that powered in at the near post.
City of Manchester mounted an offensive to try and draw even, but the worsening pitch conditions made recovery ever more difficult.
A long clearance from the Clarets defence landed with star performer Hunter, who sped at the Manchester backline and cut through to pass to Hayton, who found the corner to complete her hat-trick.
On Sunday, the lady Clarets entertain fellow high fliers Manchester Stingers at Barden, kick-off 2 p.m.