Burnley FC Women 3 Derby County Ladies 2
Two goals by Levi Rathburn and a late Sarah Greenhalgh penalty gave Burnley FC Women a hard-earned but deserved win in an epic game against a very tough Derby County Ladies team at Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena.
The Clarets women had to claw back a two-goal first half deficit, inflicted by the then dominant visitors to turn the tide and achieve a momentous start to the season.
During the summer, team manager Matt Bee significantly refreshed the squad and achieved a successful pre-season run of games.
However, the challenge presented by Derby County, who finished last season in joint second place on points, presented a difficult test. However, it was one the Clarets embraced!
New players Kelly Halligan and Levi Rathbun quickly impacted on the flanks and Nicola Worthington, Kerry Hope, Olivia Wilson and Cara Bickett in defence.
Derby slowly started to cause problems with long balls lofted into the Clarets final third. A failure to clear one of these resulted in a ball across goal that was struck at the post by Derby’s newly signed striker Hannah Keryakoplis.
The Clarets tried to take the game to Derby but were undone by another through ball to another new Derby signing and player of the match Ellie Gilliatt, who sprinted towards the Clarets goal and shot wide of keeper Lauren Bracewell.
Ten minutes later Derby were 2-0 up when another ball lofted high across the pitch was neatly controlled by Gilliatt.
This time her cross in front of goal was cleanly stuck in by Keryakoplis.
The Clarets were not giving up under the pressure. Soon Halligan was pressing at goal, but she shot wide and captain Sarah Greenhalgh won a corner from another dangerous run at goal. The corner was launched in and was headed hard at goal by Nicola Worthington. The goalkeeper saved but Rathburn was on hand to slot the rebound in at the far post. In the closing minutes of the half Bracewell saved with her out-stretched leg as Keryakoplis was again running in on goal.
With the second half underway Derby again picked up the momentum but were not finding the long ball forward as threatening as the Clarets defended well.
A forward ball from the Clarets was flicked on by Kenedy Owen into the path of Rathburn. She ran towards goal and shot striking a defender with the ball which then defected into goal to level the scores.
Rathburn was close to getting a hat-trick when she chased a through ball from Worthington. She was blocked first by a defender and then the goalkeeper some-way outside her area.
Rathburn was sent crashing down but the referee correctly judged the goalkeeper intercepted momentarily earlier.
Greenhalgh then collected a misplaced path and was able to run at goal pursued by three defenders who managed to push her wide forcing a shot that was collected by the keeper.
There was excitement at both ends as each team tested the other.
Danni Cooper in the Burnley defence made a stunning sliding tackle inside her box to prevent a shooting chance and quickly Halligan broke forward on a long run before shooting wide.
Halligan soon chased another ball but found the determined Derby keeper intercepting again outside her area a fraction early.
The Clarets continued to challenge the Derby goal. Greenhalgh floated a ball to Priestley close to the six-yard line.
A late challenge by the keeper saw Priestley knocked to the ground and the referee correctly awarded a penalty. Greenhalgh stepped forward and fired home a dramatic winner
Next Sunday, 25th August, Burnley FC Women are in League Cup action against Leeds United Ladies at the Leeds United FC Training Ground, Thorp Arch, Wetherby.
Burnley FC Women: Bracewell; Cooper, Hope, Worthington, Bickett (Hamer 56), Wilson; Halligan, Owen (Brown 56), Greenhalgh O; Greenhalgh S, Rathburn (Priestley 71). Substitutes: Agger, Wilkinson
Derby County Ladies: Kellogg; Sims, McCue, Jackson, Owen, Barber (Rai 85); Ward, Ledgister (Watson 45), Domingo (Newton 60); Keryakoplis, Gilliatt. Substitutes: Morgan, Darby