DESPITE twice leading, Burnley Ladies had to settle for a draw at Denton Town in an ill-tempered encounter.
With leading scorer Laura Hitchen unavailable, and strike partner Stephanie Meeks nursing an injury on the bench, the Clarets reshuffled their line-up, with Leah Morrisey playing centre forward and Claire Pearson slotting into central defence.
An early omen of what was to follow came in the third minute when Burnley keeper Emily Rodgers suffered the effects of a flailing boot when she left her line to bravely clear from an on-rushing Denton forward.
Burnley dominated the early exchanges with winger Kelly Ronson looking dangerous in her raids down the right flank, one cross being neatly converted in the eighth minute by Lucie Berwick to give the Clarets the lead.
Burnley came close to doubling their advantage on several occasions, and it was a surprise when Denton equalised on 15 minutes, as a long crossfield ball caught out the Burnley defence as they waited in vain for an off-side decision.
Following this setback, Burnley continued to press, with midfielders Hayley Newham and Jo Rohman exchanging short, crisp passes to create chances for the lively Morrisey.
During this period of dominance, a thumping 25-yard shot from Vicky Smith rattled the crossbar.
Yet as the half progressed, Denton began to create chances of their own and the commanding Burnley skipper Jo Holt and central defensive partner Pearson had to make several telling interventions to preserve parity, ably supported by full backs Becky Sidley and Aimee Smith.
In the early stages of the second half, left winger Berwick tormented the Denton full back to fizz in some menacing crosses, one of which was converted from close range by Smith to give Burnley the lead.
During a scramble in the Denton box, a defender appeared to handle, but no penalty was awarded.
Minutes later, a throw in was given to Denton despite the ball clearly remaining in play, and from the quickly taken throw, Denton broke away and equalised.
Burnley brought striker Meeks off the bench for the last five minutes.
Unfortunately, her appearance on the pitch was fleeting.
Within seconds, Holt was the victim of a crude late tackle and an unseemly fracas ensued involving most of the players.
Once order had been restored, the referee sent off the Denton instigator as well as Meeks, in addition to yellow carding several others from both sides.
Although the draw maintains Burnley’s unbeaten start to the season, the Clarets will view this result as two points dropped.
The next game for Burnley Ladies will be on Sunday when they host Northwich Vixens at Bank Hall, kick-off 2 p.m.