Burnley FC Women fell to defeat against Championship side Leicester City to bow out of the Women’s FA Cup at the fourth round stage on Sunday.
A rousing first half performance saw the Clarets causing real problems for the higher league visitors, as they competed on equal terms and created the majority of chances, but could not capitalise.
After the turnaround, Leicester took control of the game and notched up a three-goal advantage in a torrid 15 minutes for the Clarets.
In the later stages, Burnley lifted their performance and hoped for a miraculous recovery, but they had to be content with a single well-struck goal by Dani Cooper.
The Clarets kicked off down the slope and quickly had the visitors under pressure.
Levi Rathburn raced to intercept through balls that ran just in front of her to the keeper.
Then Lizzy Hamer broke forward on the wing and crossed in front of goal ,where Sarah Greenhalgh’s volley flew just over – an early let off for the visitors.
Greenhalgh was again frustrated when a Levi Rathburn cross was collected by the advancing keeper.
Leicester started to get a foothold in the game and were awarded a couple of corners.
The second was not cleared and fell to Ella Rutherford, who struck hard, testing Clarets keeper Lauren Bracewell, who blocked the shot, deflecting it over the bar.
Another shot by the visitors from the edge of the box was partially blocked by Sarah Agger before it passed through to Bracewell to be collected.
Moments later, the Clarets had a similar chance when Rathburn shot from the edge of the area, but the shot didn’t have quite enough power behind it and the keeper dived to save.
The Clarets maintained pressure on the visitors, but Leicester had the best chance in the latter minutes of the half when they broke out quickly.
Annabel Blanchard struck a 25-yard dipping shot at goal, but Bracewell had it covered as she tipped the ball over.
The second half opened with both teams pressing forward in turn, but Burnley failed to keep a check on Leicester winger Lachante Paul, who slipped down the left and intercepted a defected shot.
She struck past Bracewell from the corner of the six-yard box to open the scoring.
Leicester had a second goal within two minutes.
The Clarets lost possession as they played out from a goal kick, and then failed to close down striker Blanchard on the edge of the 18-yard box.
She struck unopposed into the corner of Bracewell’s goal, leaving the Clarets looking dejected.
Leicester exerted more pressure on Burnley’s goal and forced some hasty clearances.
A free kick was conceded on 25 yards, but it was struck well wide of the post.
Finally, the Clarets broke out. Greenhalgh raced to pick up a through ball but a defender shouldered her off and the ball ran through to the visitor’s keeper.
Leicester were now playing through the Clarets with ease and should have scored when a long ball out from defence was picked up by Paige Bailey-Gayle behind the last Claret.
She raced towards goal but scuffed her shot and Bracewell was able to save easily.
Bailey-Gayle made no mistake when she was given a second chance minutes later.
She cut through to again receive a pass unchallenged and slotted past Bracewell.
The Clarets did start to make an impression again in the final 25 minutes.
Greenhalgh got on the ball in front of goal but was closed down very quickly and shot wide, but later she evaded a challenging defender when she received a ball in from Rathburn. Greenhalgh struck the ball hard above the keeper, who lifted an arm to make a superb reflex save.
The Clarets got a goal shortly afterwards when the visitor’s keeper was caught off her line.
Greenhalgh played a ball across the edge of the box to Cooper, who struck a hard drive that dipped under the crossbar.
Burnley fought hard to get another goal back, but Leicester were content to run the clock down and could have frustrated the Clarets further when substitute Libby Smith shot over from the edge of the area, and Rutherford tried an overhead kick that Bracewell pulled down from above.
The Clarets had a few half chances late in the game, but a comeback never really looked feasible as the final score finished 3-1 to Leicester City Women.
ASunday’s fixture against West Bromwich Albion looks like it will be rearranged due to a conflicting cup game, with the next game at home to Middlesbrough on February 9th.