Burnley FC Women's captain Lauren Bracewell determined to bring the silverware home

Captain Lauren Bracewell is determined to get her hands on the silverware as Burnley FC Women take on AFC Fylde in the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup Final at the County Ground, Leyland on Wednesday night (kick-off 7-30 p.m.).

By Chris Boden
Wednesday, 23rd March 2022, 8:00 am

The Lady Clarets have not won the competition outright since it’s inception in 1994/95, although Bracewell has previously won the trophy with Rochdale, beating 13-time winners Blackburn Rovers!

And the proud skipper is looking forward to what promises to be a tight game against the Coasters, who have taken four points from Burnley in the league this season, but were knocked out of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup for the second-successive campaign.

Burnley are in good form, having only lost one of their last eight outings – beating league leaders Wolves along the way – and Bracewell said: "We're all super-excited, and fingers crossed we can bring the sillverware home.

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LEYLAND, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 12: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) Lauren Bracewell of Burnley in action at Lancashire FA County Ground on December 12, 2021 in Leyland, England. (Photo by Nick Taylor/Liverpool FC/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

"The win over Wolves recently was fantastic, very convincing, and earlier in the season we should have beaten them as well, but that shows how we've progressed.

"We lost in the league to Fylde, then beat them in the cup, and then drew with them after a dodgy penalty decision!

“It is going to be a competitive game, they are a hard team to play with some very good individual players, but we are confident we can beat them.

“They are on a good run and are up there with Wolves in fighting for promotion.

“But this is a game we're all really looking forward to, this is one of the biggest games of the season for us after the FA Cup games, and hopefully we can win it.

"It’s the international break as well, so it’s a perfect time, there’s no excuse not to get down to the game!”

And should penalties be required, Bracewell has form – she saved three Sunderland efforts last April to earn an FA Cup fourth round tie at home to WSL side Manchester United – the highest level of opponent the Lady Clarets have yet faced: "For a keeper, there's no pressure, you're not expected to save any penalties, my coach tells me as long as I dive it’s alright!

"I don't really have a secret, I just try and read the player and go for it.

"I'll get our analyst to look at their penalties.”

Burnley do, however, go into the final without a manager again, after the successful Matt Bee left in December – for a role at Blackburn.

While the results haven’t seen a drop off, Bracewell admits: "I think at the moment it is probably getting to us that we haven't got a manager, but we're all doing what we possiby can to stay up there.

"At first you don’t realise how much it is going to hit you, I have had a good relationship with Matt and still do. We were gutted as a squad that he has gone but the time was probably right for him.

“I think it is affecting us more now than it did before, at first it was a bit of a honeymoon period! But I think it has brought us together more as a squad and we want to work hard to get results no matter whether we have a manager or not.”