On the opening day of the 2022/23 FAWNL Northern Premier Division season, AFC Fylde Women were held to a goalless draw against Brighouse Town AFC Women at Kellamergh Park.

Despite having the better of the chances, the Coasters were unable to break the deadlock and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Following a strong third-place finish last season, Fylde manager Danielle Young has assembled a talented and determined squad of players that has been strengthened in the summer by the recruitment of Caz Fields, Katie Smith, Kelsey Pearson, Ellie Cook, and Iszy Binks.

In the first of three league fixtures in August, the Coasters were looking to kick off the new campaign with a home victory. When the two teams last faced off in the league in March, Fylde left it late to seal all three points in West Yorkshire when Faye McCoy rifled an unstoppable free-kick into the top corner for a memorable winner.

For the new season’s curtain-raiser, the visit of Brighouse Town presented Young’s team with another stern challenge on what turned out to be a difficult afternoon at Kellamergh Park.

In a game of limited opportunities, the Coasters could not find the breakthrough over the 90 minutes against Rob Mitchell’s well-organised Town side.

Early on, Fylde goalkeeper Megan Hunter was alert to the danger when she repelled an early Brighouse strike before defender Jenna Carroll cleared the ball away. The Coasters made a number of attacking forays with Laura Merrin and Sasha Rowe causing the visiting defence all sorts of problems on both flanks, while Amy Hughes and debutant Katie Smith spearheaded the attack.

Approaching the half-hour mark, Merrin swung in a dangerous corner kick, but the Fylde attackers could not get a shot away to test Becky Flaherty in the Brighouse goal. Minutes later, the visitors raced up the other end and fired a shot across goal, but Hunter was again equal to the effort.

For all the pressure that they exerted in possession, the Coasters struggled to create any clear-cut chances in the remainder of the first half.

Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-0 Brighouse Town AFC Women

At the start of the second half, striker Faye McCoy was introduced to the fold as the Coasters pushed for the opener. McCoy worked space in the area almost instantly and arrowed a shot on target that Flaherty safely gathered. Minutes later, Rowe came close to scoring when she struck a rasping effort inches wide of the post.

New signing Kelsey Pearson made her league bow with a quarter of an hour remaining when she replaced the hard-working Jess Holbrook in the midfield. With time running out, the Coasters pushed higher up the pitch in search of that elusive goal.

From an inviting cross into the box, McCoy managed to connect with a header, but her effort flashed narrowly wide. Ultimately, it was not to be for the Coasters as their opening game of the season ended in a goalless draw.

Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-0 Brighouse Town AFC Women

Next up, the Coasters travel to the East Midlands to face Nottingham Forest Women FC on Sunday 28th August. This league fixture is scheduled to kick off at 2.00 pm.

AFC Fylde Women: Hunter, Fryer, Carroll, Cook, Merrin, Forster, Rowe (85’ Hollinshead), Holbrook (74’ Pearson), Redgrave, Smith, Hughes (46’ McCoy)

Unused substitutes: Taylor, Whitaker

Report by Scott Jones