BURTON Albion began their FAWNL Cup campaign off with a 5-2 away victory against Bedworth United Ladies.
Despite a slow start, with the home side gaining the lead in the opening seconds through Kirsty Farnsworth, the Brewers hit back with three first-half goals.
An Emily Gillott brace either side of a debut strike from new signing Beth Naqwi gave the Brewers a comfortable advantage before Charlotte Taylor got one back for Bedworth in an enthralling half of football.
The hosts pushed for an equaliser in the opening exchanges of the second 45 minutes, but the Brewers substitutes proved to be integral to the result. Hanaiya Azhar took just 60 seconds to make her impact, directing her curling effort into the top corner.
Emmalee Hornsby also impressed after coming on, carrying the ball from the right-flank and firing the ball into the bottom corner.
Bedworth started quickly and gained the lead inside just 30 seconds. Stealing the ball from the toe of Charlotte Jarvis, Farnsworth kept her composure with the goal at her mercy, powering the ball past Charlotte Heggs.
But the Brewers reacted well to falling behind, finding an equaliser soon after. Breaking on the counter, it was Ella Ritchie who was leading the charge on the left-hand side. Up against a covering defender, Ritchie squared the ball to GILLOTT. One-on-one with the keeper, Gillot side-footed her effort across Emma Dell to score Burton’s first of the game.
Farnsworth led from the front for Bedworth, almost scoring a second through her hard-working pressing. Profiting from a mix-up in the Burton defence, the striker was denied a brace by Jarvis, who slid in well to intercept the shot.
After coming close to falling behind, the Brewers scored their second. A corner for the away side was cleared to the feet of NAQWI, who calmly side-footed her shot past the reach of Dell.
Two quickly turned to three for Burton through GILLOTT. Beating the offside trap, the midfielder rounded the keeper before striking her shot low under two defenders positioned on the line.
Bedworth reacted with intent, halving the deficit back down to a single goal through Taylor. Finding space on the left-hand side of the box, the winger’s strike found the back of the net despite Heggs getting fingertips on the ball.
The home side maintained the momentum gained by their second goal and came inches away from levelling the score. Jodi Hunter powered the ball across the box, evading the Burton defenders as well as Farnsworth, who was unlucky to see the ball speed past her outstretched foot.
Burton began to nullify the Bedworth attack after a number of promising opportunities in the second period, wrestling back the control they had midway through the first-half.
Chances started flowing for the Brewers, with the post denying the away side their fourth of the match. Gillott, the centre of Burton’s attacking intent, found Dannie Oxley in the box, but her attempt hit the upright.
The away side were searching for the goal that would secure the tie, with substitute Azhar brought on to make the difference. She did just that, scoring just a minute after coming onto the pitch.
Picked out by Ella Ritchie, AZHAR flicked the ball past a defender before curling a shot into the top corner, scraping the top of the bar on its way in.
Ritchie was the playmaker for Burton on Sunday afternoon and completed her hat-trick of assists just over 10 minutes before full-time. Finding an onrushing HORNSBY down the right-flank, the substitute slowed down in the box before driving her shot low in the far corner.
Burton will be delighted with their performance away at Bedworth, especially after conceding so early in the tie, and will soon find out who they will play in the next round of the FAWNL Cup.