A DEPLETED Burnley Ladies side made the long journey to Winsford for their League Cup tie only to suffer the misery of losing a penalty shoot-out, after unluckily being held to a 3-3 draw.
Burnley started the game strongly, with Hayley Newham controlling the midfield.
But against the run of play the Clarets fell behind after 10 minutes, the Winsford centre-forward evading an off-side flag to latch on to a long ball.
Within 60 seconds, Jo Rohman tried a speculative left foot shot from 25 yards that evaded the Winsford keeper’s tentative dive to level the score.
The same stopper subsequently made amends with competent saves from Lucie Berwick and Debbie Trayner.
The searing pace of Kelly Ronson down the right flank led to a succession of crosses peppering the Winsford box.
At the other end, when Winsford threatened, the centre-back partnership of Jo Holt and Aimee Smith were on hand with some timely interceptions.
On the instance when the defence was exposed, keeper Emily Rogers saved superbly.
Five minutes into the second half, poor marking from a corner allowed Winsford to regain the lead.
From this point, Burnley dominated with star-performer Em Forrest (pictured) prompting a series of Burnley assaults on the Winsford goal.
The impressive Ronson crashed a fierce cross-shot against the post, before an elegant passing interchange between Vicky Smith and Newham put Berwick clear down the left only to see her powerful drive hit the side-netting.
Still trailing 2-1 after 70 minutes, skipper Holt was pushed further forward.
Within five minutes Burnley were deservedly level, as a terrific run down the left flank by Holt ended with a low cross that forced an own goal.
Burnley continued to press through the first period of extra time and seemed to have secured a deserved victory when Rohman converted another super cross from Holt.
But Winsford equalised when a free kick from the corner of the penalty area deceived the unsighted Rogers in the Burnley goal.
During the second period of extra time the tireless Clarets found yet more energy as they laid siege to the Winsford goal.
Corner followed corner, but Winsford clung on. Full-back Becky Sidley won a 50-50 ball and threaded a perfect pass to Ronson who sped down the wing and fizzed a cross along the edge of the six-yard box, with Rohman only inches away from completing her hat-trick.
So, 3-3 after extra-time and defeat in the penalty lottery.
Nevertheless, without the luxury of substitutes, for long periods of this two-hour marathon Burnley outplayed and outfought their Cheshire opponents.
Their focus will now be exclusively on the league where, with a full squad available, they should realistically be challenging for the upper positions in the remainder of the season.