Burnley FC Women see off local rivals Blackburn Community to reach LFA Challenge Cup semi-final

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Burnley FC Women reached the semi-finals of the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup on Sunday with a 6-1 win at Blackburn Community Sports Club Ladies FC.

The scoreline suggests the Clarets Women had a breeze of a Sunday afternoon against their old local rivals Blackburn Community.

With three tiers of the Women’s Football Pyramid now separating the sides, the final score also seemed inevitable, but the truth is that the underdogs were strongly competitive for much of the game, and could well have come within a whisker of causing an upset.

Blackburn made a good start to the game, notably right-sided defender Ali O’Donnell feeding balls through to the enthusiastic strike force.

A free kick awarded against the Clarets was driven hard at goal, rising as it went.

Keeper Lauren Bracewell managed to tip the ball onto the bar and out for a corner.

Blackburn maintained their effort and were almost rewarded with an opening goal as captain Rebecca McGrath unleashed a rising drive from the edge of the area, once again testing Bracewell, who touched the ball over the bar.

Bracewell was again the Clarets’ saviour when she elected to cut out a long ball forward by sprinting out of her area to intercept and clear ahead of a home striker.

The Clarets’ first goal came midway in the half when a Sarah Agger cross was defended at the near post.

The defender, under pressure from Sarah Greenhalgh, defected the ball into her own net.

Two minutes later, the Clarets had a second goal through a corner that was played in by Kerry Hope.

Melissa Brown headed smartly over the defence and clear of the keeper.

Blackburn nearly grabbed a goal back when striker Sophie Williams met a cross and headed firmly at goal, only to see the ball fly over the bar.

The Clarets went 3-0 up when Greenhalgh found her way through on goal blocked, so she passed back to Agger, who struck a powerful shot from 25 yards that arrowed into the net.

Blackburn suffered a final misery of the half when a back pass was mis judged and it ended up in the net.

Blackburn made a plucky start to the second half, but Greenhalgh soon added to the Clarets tally.

First a Kelly Halligan pass through the defence sent Greenhalgh on goal, and she shot wide of the keeper.

Then a final goal for the Clarets came when Greenhalgh flicked a cross into the net.

Blackburn finally got their moment late in the game when they were awarded a penalty after some over-enthusiastic defending by Cara Bickett.

Amy Bland stepped up for the kick, with Bracewell initially making a save, but Bland got to the loose ball to finish the job.

The win sees Burnley FC Women through to the semi-finals for the second year running, and it is as far as they have ever been in the competition.

This season it is more open after 13-time winners Blackburn Rovers LFC decided not to directly contest the cup, following their promotion into the FA Women’s Championship.

Last season’s beaten finalists Fylde Women FC have already been knocked out by Bolton Wanderers Ladies, who join the Clarets in the draw, along with Chorley FC Women.

The fourth team will be decided when the tie between Wythenshawe Amateurs Women v Sir Tom Finney Women has been played.

This Sunday, Burnley FC Women are back in league action as they welcome Sheffield FC Women to Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena.Kick-off is 2 p.m., with admission £3 for adults and £1 for under 16s.