Despite a magnificent all-round performance from captain Jo Holt, Burnley Ladies suffered a defeat on their visit to Northwich Vixens.
The lady Clarets almost conceded in the opening seconds of the game when a defensive mix-up gifted a chance to the Northwich striker, but her miscued effort struck the foot of the post.
The Cheshire outfit pressed for an opening goal but were thwarted by the resilience of Holt and the speed of her centre half partner Leah Morrisey.
As the half progressed, Burnley grew as an attacking force. Em Forrest and Hayley Newham combined well in central midfield to free Katy O’Hara down the right flank, but her threatening cross was blocked on the edge of the penalty area by a defender’s hand; Burnley failed to benefit from the subsequent free kick.
Clarets striker Danni Cooper, repeatedly tormented the Northwich defence with her pace and mobility. A left-footed cross from full back, Vicky Smith, was deftly flicked on by Newham into the path of Emma Porter, but the striker’s volley faded wide of the post.
Northwich had chances of their own and gained the lead on 35 minutes when a Morrisey tackle deflected across the penalty area and the Northwich winger was first to react. A superb turn and shot from Forrest almost levelled the scores but her vicious drive flew inches wide.
Burnley began the second half as slowly as they did the first, but this time they were punished, finding themselves 3-0 down within 10 minutes of the restart.
The Clarets rallied and played their most inventive football of the match, with midfielders Forrest and Newham prompting repeated attacks on the Northwich goal.
On the hour, a left-wing run and cross from Jo Rohman caused panic in the Northwich penalty area and Becca Sidley reacted smartly to pull a goal back.
A thunderous drive from Forrest struck the bar. Holt accelerated past two defenders down the right flank and fizzed in a low cross along the edge of the six-yard box that narrowly evaded the Burnley forwards.
The Clarets continued to apply pressure in the latter stages of the match, both Rohman and Jade Brindle coming close to reducing the deficit. But the lady Clarets had left themselves too much to do and Northwich managed to protect their advantage.
On Sunday Burnley Ladies visit high-flying Tranmere Rovers.
FINAL SCORE: Northwich Vixens 3, Burnley FC Ladies 1