A visit to the seaside on a cold and wet winter’s day brought good cheer to the Lady Clarets as they ran out winners against old rivals Blackpool FC Ladies.
Two goals each for Sarah Greenhalgh and Lynette Craig and another from Evie Priestley sealed the win in their final game of 2017 in the North West Women’s Football League at the HASSRA Sports Pavilion, Thornton-Cleveleys.
Credit must be given to the home team, who worked hard to get the pitch playable after a heavy downpour leading up to kick-off.
Craig showed great determination in the early stages as she repeatedly raided down the left flank to deliver crosses into the Tangerines’ goalmouth.
Their goalkeeper Natalie Cessford was going to have a busy afternoon, but kept Burnley out for some time.
Justine Wallace got on the end of a Craig cross with a powerful header that flew narrowly wide.
Craig also provided a close-range chance for Greenhalgh, when she headed a Holly Hunter cross to her feet, but Greenhalgh’s shot was saved by the heroic Cessford.
On the other flank, the Clarets’ player of the match Leah Embley continually pushed forward with assistance from Hunter, with the expectation that the Clarets would soon break the deadlock.
The first goal came when Evie Priestley intercepted a long-range clearance from Clarets keeper Lauren Bracewell. Priestley sprinted at goal and flicked the ball over the keeper before being upended.
Craig helped the shot home as the ball was being chased down by two defenders.
At 1-0 down. the Tangerine defence worked tirelessly to contain the Lady Clarets as they tried to extend the lead.
As time progressed, the Tangerines were able to break out and present an attacking threat, but as the half drew to a close, the Clarets had the best chance when Craig struck a shot that was met with a diving save from Cessford.
Early in the second period, Priestley superbly rounded Cessford but the goal was disallowed as the referee had spotted an in infringement.
The Clarets piled on pressure and Wallace drove a shot in from 18 yards, forcing another diving save.
Wallace later picked out Greenhalgh in front of goal, who skilfully controlled the high pass before turning and driving the ball into the net.
Greenhalgh looked to double her tally from a Priestley cross, but Cessford was quickly down at her feet to save, and took a nasty knock in the process and had to receive attention before she was ready to continue.
Cessford was soon back in action to deny Priestley on the edge of her area.
Later Priestley collected a loose ball, and cut in past the advancing keeper to score a well-deserved goal.
Georgia Payton joined the action and soon had a chance, but Cessford read her mind and made another good save.
The Clarets continued to apply pressure and Embley raced forward to the bye line and crossed to Greenhalgh at the far post, who made no mistake.
The Tangerines were not giving up and Bracewell made a diving save to maintain her clean sheet.
As the game reached the final stages, Hunter forced another save, before Craig collected a clearance on the edge of the box and lofted a shot high into the net.
The Lady Clarets will close 2017 knowing they will need a strong 2018 to earn another top three finish.
They are next in action in biggest game in the club’s history at Cardiff City Ladies in the third round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup on January 7th.