AFC Fylde Women returned to action on Sunday with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Stoke City FC Women at Kellamergh Park.

The Coasters were on course to come away with at least a point after an impressive performance on home soil.

However, they were dealt a late blow as Marie Hourihan’s Potters grabbed the winner in the closing minutes to take home all three points.

For their first game in four weeks, Fylde joint managers Jake Williams and Steve Mainwaring were eager for their team to hit the ground running as they took the game to their visitors.

Roisin Kivel put Stoke City ahead midway through the first half, before Fylde equalised early in the second half when skipper Sasha Rowe made no mistake with a confident finish. With the game finely balanced, the Potters delivered a suckerpunch as debutant Mia Leath netted the decisive second goal with only nine minutes remaining.

The Potters held out to seal their third consecutive away win and move up to sixth in the standings. Meanwhile, the Coasters were left to rue a missed opportunity to get points on the board in their quest to move off the foot of the table.

Ahead of kick-off, the Coasters were delighted to welcome three new additions to the playing squad. Imogen Maguire, Maria Francis-Jones, and Minnie Rogers came into the side to provide a huge boost for the run-in.

In the opening stages, Fylde signalled their attacking intent as Lois Moore made a marauding run forward and got a shot away, but it was blocked by the defender. Clara Samson’s follow-up was deflected behind for a goal-kick.

Moments later, Rowe played a delightful pass through to Moore, who took aim and saw her shot deflected out for a corner.

The Potters then broke the deadlock from a free-kick in the 23rd minute. After the cross was partially cleared, Kivel controlled the loose ball on the edge of the area and rifled into the top of the net to make it 1-0.

The Coasters responded positively and created an opening as Moore jinked her way past several defenders and tested Georgie Ferguson in the visiting goal. The rebound fell to Iszy Binks, who fired back at goal, but Ferguson was again equal to it.

Just past the half-hour mark, Fylde were almost caught out when Molly Holder stole possession and flashed a shot narrowly wide of the post.

As a cagey first half came to a close, the Potters went into the break with a slender advantage.

Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-1 Stoke City FC Women

Following the restart, the Coasters battled to get back into the contest, but chances were limited as neither side was able to keep possession for long.

With the pressure mounting, Rowe produced a moment of magic to draw Fylde level in the 55th minute. After regaining possession high up the pitch, Rowe confidently fired past Ferguson and into the back of the net.

A few minutes later, Fylde almost edged ahead when Samson raced down the wing and swung a teasing ball across the goal, but it was just missed by Rowe at the back post.

In the 67th minute, Kivel attempted to score from a quick free-kick but Fylde goalkeeper Liz Craven made an excellent save to keep it out.

Entering the final quarter of an hour, Craven was forced into another smart save, this time to repel Kivel’s effort after some neat build-up play by Lily Murphy.

In the 81st minute, the Potters capitalised on a goalmouth scramble to score their second of the afternoon. After an initial shot was blocked, substitute Leath was on hand to convert the rebound off the underside of the crossbar for what turned out to be the winner.

Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 1-2 Stoke City FC Women

AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Thomas, Hamill, Strutton, Francis-Jones, Rowe (88’ Rogers), Binks, Dale, Samson, Devereaux (59’ Wood), Moore

Unused substitutes: Maguire, James

Stoke City FC Women: Ferguson, Thompson, McDonald, Suttie, Molinari, Higginbottom (62’ Leath), Holder, Stamps, Murphy, Kivel, Logan

Unused substitutes: Hobson, Philpott, Tudor, Anderson

Report by Scott Jones