AFC Fylde Women marked their return to Kellamergh Park on Sunday with a 3-0 loss to high-flying Wolves Women.

It had been just over a month since the Coasters had last played on home soil before their rearranged meeting with Dan McNamara’s Wolves side on 14th April.

Jake Williams’s and Steve Mainwaring’s Fylde team put in a resolute display and remained firmly in the contest, despite falling behind in the first half. It was not until the final quarter of an hour that Wolves were able to put the game out of sight by adding two late goals to seal a 3-0 victory that extended their winning streak to five games.

Unfortunately, the result also confirmed Fylde’s relegation from the FAWNL Northern Premier Division after they failed to secure maximum points in their penultimate home game of the season. With only three games of the 2023/24 season remaining, the Coasters can no longer bridge the gap to safety as they drop into the fourth tier of the women’s football pyramid.

The Coasters welcomed back Maria Francis-Jones, Holly Kelsh-Ridge and Faye Dale to the starting eleven, while Clara Samson also returned in attack.

On an overcast spring afternoon, Fylde made a promising start and took the game to their opponents. In the opening minutes, Sasha Rowe stung the palms of Wolves goalkeeper Bec Thomas with a long-range strike that Thomas managed to tip over the bar. Minutes later, Fylde shotstopper Liz Craven was called into action to repel Merrick Will’s acrobatic overhead kick.

Samson’s pace and trickery stretched the Wolves backline as she won a free-kick on the halfway line. Iszy Binks sent in a teasing cross to the back post, but Thomas raced out to gather.

The visitors were forced into two changes midway through the first half as Sophie Bramford and Merrick Will had to be withdrawn through injury.

After a series of corner kicks, Wolves broke the deadlock in the 34th minute when Summer Holmes converted from close range with a looping shot over Craven to register her first goal of the season.

Wolves looked to grab a second shortly after, but Craven did well to palm away a dangerous cross, before Beth Strutton made a superb defensive header to clear the danger.

On the cusp of half-time, Craven made a smart save to prevent Holmes from scoring her second of the afternoon. And with that, the Coasters trailed by a single goal at the break.

Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-1 Wolves Women

Following the restart, Fylde continued to work hard on and off the ball as they searched for an equaliser.

However, their task was made harder when striker Lois Moore was dismissed for a second bookable offence just past the hour mark.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Fylde still posed a threat on the counter as Samson managed to get in behind the Wolves defence, but nobody was able to connect with her centre across the goalmouth.

It was not until the closing quarter of an hour when Wolves eventually made their dominance count. In the 79th minute, Amber Hughes slotted home from close range to make it 2-0 following some excellent build-up play by Ellie Wilson. Hughes continued her fine goalscoring form with her eighth goal in six matches, which gave Wolves a two-goal cushion.

Four minutes later, Wilson added a third goal for the visitors. Wolves substitute Layla Banaras released Wilson down the right wing, before Wilson checked inside and unleashed a left-footed drive that went in with the aid of a deflection.

With time running out, there was no way back for the Coasters as Wolves saw out the final minutes to claim the victory.

Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-3 Wolves Women

AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Francis-Jones, Hamill, Strutton, Thomas, Rowe, Binks, Dale (80’ Whitaker), Kelsh-Ridge (68’ Chan), Samson (90+1’ Rogers), Moore

Unused substitute: Maguire

Wolves Women: Thomas, Wilson, Morphet (87’ Johnson), Will (30’ George), J. Cross, Hughes, Holmes, Fryer, Fergusson (71’ Banaras), Roberts (77’ E. Cross), Bramford (21’ Merrick)

Report by Scott Jones