Brighouse Town Women sink Loughborough Lightning with Embley's late strike
Leah Embley’s injury time thunderbolt secured all three points for Brighouse Town Women in a thrilling clash with National League Northern Premier rivals Loughborough Lightning on Sunday.
The visitors belied their second-from-bottom league position to frustrate their hosts and looked like they’d rescued a point when captain Chloe Young scored an 84th minute equaliser.
However, Embley’s late, late show meant they left the Yorkshire Payments Stadium with their seventh successive – and arguably unluckiest - National League’s Northern Premier defeat.
Rob Mitchell’s team went into the match without their influential midfielder Cara Fields, who was out with a knee injury.
After a cagey first 10 minutes Brighouse’s Danielle Whitham went closest to breaking the deadlock when her cross hammered into the post and away to safety.
For their part Loughborough looked dangerous from set pieces and midway through the half Shauna Legge had to clear a shot off the line with her thigh.
Brighouse thought they’d opened the scoring on 32 minutes when player-of-the-match Drew Greene went around debutant goalkeeper Kiya Webb for leading scorer Amy Woodruff to knock the ball into the empty net but Green was penalised for a foul on the covering defender.
Webb had a busy afternoon and denied Woodruff, White and Brighouse skipper Annabelle Cass but the home team weren’t to be denied and opened the scoring after 36 minutes in bizarre circumstances.
White’s beautifully delivered corner caused confusion in the Loughborough area and found its way into the net as the first half finished 1-0 to the hosts.
Brighouse started the second half on the front foot and Whitham and Embley were both denied by two plunging saves from Webb in the opening few minutes after the interval.
The home team’s play was disrupted by an ankle injury that forced left back Darcie Greene off the pitch and Loughborough piled forward in search of an leveller.
Young had already gone close with a curling shot before she scored a brilliant equaliser after 84 minutes.
Cass was adjudged to have committed a foul 30 yards out and Young bent in a delightful free-kick to beat Imogen Maguire to spark scenes of wild celebration.
Loughborough immediately brought on a couple of substitutes as they looked to hold on for a point and that played into Brighouse’s hands.
Brighouse substitute Monique Watson was a thorn in the Loughborough defence and with 90 minutes on the clock was involved as Embley ran on to a through ball to beat Webb with a rasping shot from 12 yards out for her fifth goal of the season.
White almost added a third but it would have been harsh on the visitors but the win moved Brighouse up to sixth in the league and stretched their unbeaten league and cup run to nine matches.
After the game Brighouse manager Rob Mitchell said it was an ‘ugly’ win but praised his side’s never-say-die attitude. He said: “It wasn’t our best performance of the season but there are no easy games in this league.
“A couple of weeks ago bottom placed Hull City played league leaders Wolves and led 2-1 before losing 3-2.
“Loughborough Lightning fought really hard but sat a bit deeper after they equalised and it was a fantastic finish from Leah. I don’t think she could have caught it any better.”