Burnley FC Women signed off a title-winning season in style with a 1-0 win over Chorleyt before being presented with the FA WNL Division 1 North championship trophy at Padiham’s Ruby Civil Arena on Sunday.
Ahead of the game, the Chorley players provided a guard of honour for the Clarets as they walked onto the pitch, and both teams undertook a minute’s applause in appreciation and respect for the mother of Chorley player Ellie Mills, who passed away earlier in the week.
The game also had significance for Clarets players Justine Wallace and Lynette Craig, who have announced they are leaving to play at a less demanding level.
Both have a wealth of experience, and vice captain Wallace, aged 45, has been a great asset in helping the team achieve new potential in recent seasons.
Burnley started strongly, but Chorley were well organised in defence and snuffed out any chances.
In a half where the Clarets had the lion’s share of possession, there were precious few openings on goal.
Sarah Greenhalgh had the best chance when she headed on a through ball before trying to chip over the Chorley goalkeeper Rachel Darbyshire from an angle, but the ball landed narrowly wide.
The second half had more in the way of exciting play.
The Clarets quickly made an impact when Leah Embley fed across the box to Evie Priestley, who hit the post, and as the ball remained in play, Greenhalgh was fouled on the edge of the area.
Vikki Eastwood stepped up for the kick, which she lofted over the defensive wall, but Darbyshire neatly claimed the ball from just under the bar.
Pressure was maintained on the visitors’ goal, and soon Craig launched a corner that dropped onto the six-yard line, where Sammy Fleck made the all-important contact that directed the ball into the net to make it 1-0.
Chorley responded to the deficit, and Danni Cooper superbly intercepted in front of goal to clear.
Greenhalgh came close to increasing the lead when she cleverly intercepted a ball on the edge of the area, but Darbyshire blocked her shot.
Then Embley weaved her way into the box but a defender skilfully got a foot on the ball to clear the danger.
The final 20 minutes proved to be quite tense as Chorley’s Lisa Topping shot at goal as captain Jo Holt closed to tackle. Claims for a penalty were ignored by the referee as the ball appeared to hit her arm at close range.
The Clarets responded, and Emily Wilkinson had the ball in the net after Greenhalgh passed through, but the linesman spotted an off-side.
In the final minute, a Chorley free kick passed narrowly out of reach of Topping, and two minutes into injury time another free kick hit the post.
The win saw Burnley finish 13 points clear of their nearest rival in the league, and they were presented with the trophy by Amanda Cummings from the FA Women’s National League.