Lady Clarets win a place in first round proper of FA Cup

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A 4-1 victory over Wigan Athletic at the Prairie Sports Village on Sunday earned the Lady Clarets a place in the SSE Women’s FA Cup first round proper for the first time.

The final score does not reflect the difficult and competitive nature of the game.

Wigan pressured the Clarets in all areas of the pitch, and in the early stages breached their defensive line to create half chances, before being closed down by the centre half duo of Sammy Fleck and captain Jo Holt.

The Clarets turned tables on the visitors and scored with their first real attack.

Fleck headed clear from a Wigan attack, and the Clarets quickly moved the ball upfield.

Leah Embley hooked the ball into the 18-yard box, where Sarah Greenhalgh pressured a defender into making her head back to the keeper, but Greenhalgh intercepted and finished.

Within a few minutes, Wigan drew level when a cross into the box was caught up high by keeper Lauren Bracewell, but she collided with Fleck on her decent and the ball fell kindly to a Wigan striker, who tapped it over the goal line.

The game continued on an even keel. Wigan pushed at the Clarets, forcing defensive back passes to Bracewell, who acted as the last defender.

The Lady Clarets played out from the back and found another breakthrough when a Greenhalgh pass picked out Embley on the right-hand side of the box, and she shot to beat the keeper at the far post.

At 2-1 and with 25 minutes to play in the first period, both teams pressed hard, but Wigan created the better chances as Bracewell twice had to go one on one to prevent a levelling goal, and the Clarets defence had to scramble clear on a separate occasion.

In the second half, the Clarets contained the Wigan advances, and the introduction of substitute Georgia Payton helped open up the opposition defence as the pace of the game increased.

Greenhalgh hit the target but was correctly ruled off-side.

It was not until the middle of the half when Embley won a challenge in a forward position, and Justine Wallace shook off two defenders to create a chance to place wide of the advancing keeper, which she duly did.

In reply, Wigan forced a diving save from Bracewell, but at the other end the Clarets came close when Greenhalgh rounded the keeper, but a defender managed to push the ball out for a corner.

Greenhalgh met the cross with a thunderous header that first smashed the underside of the cross bar before bouncing over the line to conclude the score at 4-1.

The Lady Clarets will travel north of Newcastle to play Alnwick Town LFC in the next round of the SSE Womens FA cup on November 12th.

On Sunday, the Lady Clarets entertain Bolton Wanderers LFC at Barden Athletics ground in the Lancashire Women’s County Cup.