SUBSTITUTE Emmalee Hornsby scored a late winner to earn Burton Albion a 2-1 away victory against Holwell Sports in the FA Women’s National League.
Captain Amber-Leigh Denny opened the scoring from the penalty spot before an unstoppable strike from Courteney Cropper levelled the scoring going into the break.
With the match hanging in the balance going into the final minutes of the game, it was Hornsby who made the difference for the Brewers. Rifling the ball in from a corner, the former Derby County player helped secure Albion's second league win of the season.
Impressive at home this season, it was no surprise that the hosts started brightly. Natalie Hurt tried her luck from the edge early on, but her powerful shot nestled into the gloves of Alice Langstone.
The Brewers responded with a chance of their own moments later through Ella Ritchie. Running behind the defence after the Holwell backline failed to clear the ball, the forward curled her effort just wide the post.
The first half was back-and-forth with both sides desperate for an opener. Chantelle Amber Robinson was the next to test Langstone, but her shot from inside the box was arrowed straight at the keeper.
Danni Oxley and Beth Naqwi then both had unsuccessful strikes at goal for Burton before Ritchie was denied a one-on-one opportunity Lucie Mugridge. Sliding in, the centre-back took the ball off the toes of the forward, whose direct run through the middle of the pitch almost ended with an opportunity to score.
Attacks for each team came in phases during the first half, with Holwell enjoying a bright spell after a period of domination from Burton.
Hurst, who was at the heart of the Holwell attack, was denied for the second time in the half by Langstone before Katie Lowder had an opening.
Ciara Fray’s attempted headed clearance inadvertently fell into the path of Lowder, but she pulled her shot wide of the far post.
Despite chances at either end in what was a frantic start to the match, it took until the half-hour mark for the deadlock to be broken.
After Ritchie was brought down in the box, it was captain DENNY who took responsibility from the spot, firing the ball into the bottom corner to give the Brewers the lead.
Looking to take control of the scoreline, Burton almost doubled their advantage soon after scoring their first.
Ritchie struck twice in quick succession inside the box, but her efforts were matched by keeper Chloe Quinn, saving her goalbound attempts.
Quinn’s stops proved crucial for Holwell, with the home side equalising just moments after they almost fell two goals behind. Picking up the ball from the left side of the box, CROPPER lashed a shot at the goal, with the ball crashing against the underside of the crossbar and into the net.
Momentum was in favour of hosts, with Hurst inches away from completing the comeback on the brink of the break. After Langstone made a handful of saves near the end of the half, Holwell’s best opportunity to find a second came through the striker. Running free of her marker, Hurst nodded a free header from close range just past the near post.
The second half didn’t follow the same frantic pattern of the first, with end-to-end goal-mouth action in the opening 45 minutes replaced with a more cagey affair.
Emily Gillott and Ritchie both had unsuccessful strikes early on, with Oxley unlucky to see her effort cannon off the bar.
Faith Horner went the closest to scoring for either side up until the hour mark, with a dipping strike from outside the area saved by a diving Langstone.
Robinson also proved to be a danger for Holwell, almost finding the net at the end of a brilliant solo effort. Bursting down the right from halfway, Robinson evaded multiple challenges from the Brewers defence before seeing her shot saved by the feet of Langstone from a narrow-angle.
Put under the cosh for most of the second-half, it was substitute Hornsby who struck late to give Burton all three points. After a corner swung into the box evaded the Holwell defence, the ball dropped to the feet of HORNSBY, who lashed the ball in from close range.
The stoppage-time winner sent the away dugout into jubilation. Hornsby repeated her antics from the Brewers last win in late October, where she came off the bench to score a late winner against Mansfield Town.
The victory against Holwell is Burton’s first in the league since August when they beat Long Eaton United. The Brewers will be hoping for more of the same when they face Wem Town on December 5, with both teams currently sitting on eight points.