Zoey Shaw’s side put in yet another good performance on the road against higher opposition but were ultimately defeated in their second friendly of pre-season, losing out 4-1 away to Burnley on Sunday.
The Belles took the lead just before the interval but were pegged back shortly after the break by the Clarets who scored four times without reply at Padiham’s Arbories ground.
Shaw made one change from last week’s trip to West Brom, with Chloe Bethell replacing 16-year-old Kazia Walby who dropped to the bench.
It was the hosts who made the brighter start and immediately Kirsty Johnson was called into action, with the Burnley number 10 seeing the Belles’ stopper come out on top after a one-on-one inside the box.
Johnson would have to be alert shortly afterwards with the Clarets’ number 12 next to try her luck by once again the goalkeeper had the upper hand.
The hosts’ number 10 looked most likely to score, and she should’ve done just that on the half-hour mark, beating the offside trap and looping the ball over Johnson, however she couldn’t direct her effort goal-wards, instead curling wide of the far post.
It would be a chance that would prove costly as the game ticked towards the break, as with the Belles first real chance of the game, they took the lead.
Captain Lauren Breen’s corner from the left was headed down inside the area towards Chloe Starling, and she volleyed home into the top corner for her first Belles goal four minutes before the interval.
It would be a lead that Shaw’s side would take into the second half, but not before the Clarets’ number 10 missed another glorious chance, firing well wide when one-on-one with Johnson once more.
It wouldn’t take long for the hosts to eventually get their goal, with the equaliser coming just three minutes into the second period.
A ball across the face of goal was knocked towards the Burnley number 3, and she rifled an unstoppable shot past Johnson into the top corner from the edge of the box.
The turn-around was then complete two minutes later, with the hosts’ number 10 finally getting the goal she had been looking for, beating Johnson to a low ball from the left-hand side to slot under the goalkeeper.
Bethell, on her return to the side, was one of the Belles’ most lively players, working the ball well down the right to turn her marker and shoot with her left foot from the edge of the box, only to see the Burnley goalkeeper well behind her effort.
Johnson was doing well to keep her side in it down the other end, this time denying the Clarets’ number 7 in yet another one-on-one scenario, saving well with her feet to clear any danger.
The killer goal came nine minutes from time with the Belles’ defence stretched, with sub goalkeeper Grace Dixon saving the first effort but only managing to parry into the path of the Burnley number 7 who slotted home their third.
And in similar fashion to their first two goals, the Clarets’ next goal came within two minutes of the third, with the number 10 apparently beating the offside trap and slotting under Dixon to round off the scoring.
Breen would have a chance to get the Belles back to within a two-goal deficit, but she saw her well-struck free-kick from the edge of the area tipped over the crossbar by the Clarets’ stopper.
Dixon would then make a good save of her own to deny the Burnley number 10 a hat-trick which she should really have had sewn up long before, standing up well to the forward to block away her shot in the last action of the game.
Despite the full-time score-line, Shaw and her side can take great pride in the performance shown against higher opposition once again, and they are looking stronger by the game as the FAWNL Division One Midlands season ticks towards its opening game against Leafield Athletic on Sunday August 18.
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