Burnley FC Women reached the final of the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup for the first time after fighting back from a two-goal deficit against Chorley FC Women on Sunday.
An action packed second half saw the visitors extend their one-goal half-time advantage, before the Clarets were awarded a penalty that Levi Rathburn calmly despatched.
Then a strike by Lizzy Hamer levelled the score, and after a flurry of Clarets chances, Evie Priestley scored the winner deep into stoppage time.
Chorley caused the first scare for the Clarets early on when a breakaway attack saw Rebecca Kemp float a ball dangerously across Lauren Bracewell’s goal.
And then another long ball struck into the box had Bracewell sliding out to gather ahead of the Magpies strikers.
The Clarets were having most of the forward play, and Sarah Greenhalgh shot wide from a Lizzy Hamer pull back, before Evie Priestley was unable to turn and get a shot off when she received a through pass from Kerry Hope.
Another long ball into the Clarets area resulted in an opening goal for Chorley.
Bracewell was unable to hold on to a cross when under pressure from Chorley’s Rachel Wood, who struck home as the ball fell.
The Clarets intensified the pressure on the visitors.
Priestley struck over in front of goal from a Hamer pass, then from a Greenhalgh pass, Priestley forced keeper Rachel Darbyshire to make a great reflex tip over.
Chorley repelled many further Burnley advances with stone wall defending.
Hamer sprinted onto a through ball, but the keeper won the contest, and Nic Worthington shot hard from 25 yards, testing Darbyshire again, who collected at the second attempt.
With the second half underway the Clarets needed to step up the pressure, but Chorley had other ideas and managed to pen them back for some time.
Levi Rathburn and Greenhalgh eventually broke forward with a two-pronged attack before shooting wide.
Chorley’s response was to hit back quickly. After intercepting, they broke forward, with a challenge on a Clarets defender allowed to go, before Wood made a high cross to the back post, where team mate Rebecca Kemp stretched a leg out to knock the ball into the net.
Within a couple of minutes, the Clarets secured a route back into the game when they were awarded a penalty as the referee blew for a Chorley handball.
Rathburn stepped forward and sent Darbyshire the wrong way.
The Clarets were pressing hard with much-needed intensity. Dani Cooper challenged hard to win the ball in midfield and set Hamer up for a shot that she drove low and hard.
A deflection ensured it was out of reach of Darbyshire and the Clarets were now level 2-2.
Chorley tried to claw back the lead, and substitute Kadie Morrison headed over from a cross, and Bracewell neatly caught a long-range shot.
The Clarets had the momentum in the last 20 minutes, as Priestley shot over from a sharp angle, and Darbyshire cleanly caught a corner under pressure.
From another corner, Rathburn shot over as the ball dropped, and later, she set Greenhalgh up in front of goal, but her effort was blocked by defenders.
The action continued as the Clarets were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area, where Darbyshire was positioned well and collected the shot.
Rathburn again had a chance when she received a through ball and evaded two defenders, but she shot wide under the challenge of Darbyshire.
The game moved into injury time – with penalties looming to separate the sides – and the Clarets pressed for a winning goal.
An Olivia Wilson ball through to Hamer again saw Darbyshire challenge to protect her goal, before other chances were snuffed out by the visitors.
As the clock registered the last seconds of injury time, Greenhalgh lobbed a ball to Priestley.
And she held off two defenders to shoot home with her left foot to seal the victory
and route into the final.
On Sunday, Burnley FC Women are in FA Cup fourth round action when they take on Leicester City Women, from the women’s Championship, at Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena.
Leicester are the highest-seeded team the Clarets Women have ever played, and it promises to be a tasty encounter.
Kick-off is 1 p.m.
Entrance is £3 for adults and £1 for under 16s.