A CONTROVERSIAL injury time equaliser denied a depleted Burnley Ladies side a deserved victory on their visit to Bolton Wanderers, a 2-2 final score-line being scant reward for a valiant display.
Due to injuries and work commitments, the lady Clarets were only able to field 10 players. But their work-rate and movement meant that for long periods of the game a neutral observer would have guessed that it was Bolton, not Burnley, who were numerically disadvantaged.
Debbie Trayner (pictured) played as a lone striker, her pace and physical presence unsettling the Bolton defence throughout the match and rightly earning the young Burnley striker the star-performer award.
As early as the 10th minute Trayner out-muscled her marker but her right-foot strike drifted wide of the post. Central midfielder, Jo Rohman, dribbled through the centre of the Bolton defence only to be thwarted by a desperate challenge inside the penalty box.
Burnley opened the scoring after 40 minutes, a penetrating run from captain Jo Holt forcing the Bolton keeper to mishandle, and Trayner was on hand to convert from six yards.
Bolton rallied and used the advantage of an extra player to apply pressure, a long range effort striking the Burnley bar. But the Clarets back-four held firm, with the central partnership of Holt and Claire Pearson outstanding, ably supported by teenage full-backs Becky Sidley and Olivia Waddington.
Burnley started the second half strongly, fluent interplay from Vicky Smith, Carly Salkeld and Rohman creating further half-chances for Trayner. Their pressure reaped rewards on the hour when a thunderous left-foot shot from Lucie Berwick gave Burnley a 2 – 0 lead.
Bolton responded and looked certain to score only to be denied by a superb reflex save from keeper Emily Rogers, the impressive Sidley responding first to the deflection to clear the danger. Burnley did concede on 65 minutes when a cross-shot from the right flank nestled under the bar.
An entertaining game now became an exhilarating one, with chances at both ends. The steely centre-backs, Holt and Pearson, repelled the Bolton onslaught while the tireless Trayner was only prevented from scoring her second goal of the game by the legs of the Bolton keeper.
In injury time the win Burnley Ladies so richly deserved was cruelly snatched from them when the Bolton winger appeared to have run the ball out of play before crossing for a scrambled equaliser. Within seconds Burnley were reduced to nine players when Trayner limped off injured. But even with a two-player advantage, and the referee somehow finding five further minutes of injury time, Bolton could not overcome the resistance of the heroic ladies in claret and blue.