AFC Fylde Women fell to a 4-1 defeat on Wednesday evening after a hard-fought encounter with Liverpool Feds WFC at Kellamergh Park.
The Feds held a one-goal lead at the half-time break, but the Coasters forged their way back into the game and equalised straight after the restart thanks to a composed finish by Sasha Rowe.
With the game finely balanced, the Coasters were undone by some clinical finishing by the Feds, who managed to retake the lead minutes later, before adding two more goals in the latter stages of the second half.
Refusing to give up, the Coasters continued to create chances in the final third, but the Feds stood firm to maintain their lead and come away with all three points.
It was a tough defeat to take for James Mallett’s Coasters, who had been building momentum in recent weeks with back-to-back victories on the road. In their final midweek game of the campaign, Mallett’s side were aiming for a positive result under the lights at Kellamergh Park.
After the original fixture had been postponed a fortnight ago due to adverse weather conditions, this rearranged meeting with Leanne Duffy’s Liverpool Feds proved to be a step too far for the Coasters.
Inside the opening few minutes, Laura Merrin swung a dangerous cross into the box that visiting goalkeeper Rachel Darbyshire did well to gather. Moments later, Rowe darted inside from the left and rifled an effort over the crossbar.
On the quarter-hour mark, the hosts were forced into an early substitution when the injured Danielle Young was replaced by Cara Bickett in central defence.
The visitors applied a high press and troubled the Fylde defence early on, but were mainly restricted to long-range shots. After Paige Cole had fired wide from distance, Ellie Stewart blazed a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar in the 24th minute.
The Feds broke the deadlock just before the half-hour mark when Katie Thomas rounded off a counterattacking move with a left-footed drive into the bottom corner.
Evie Smith stole possession inside her own half and passed to Amy Seagraves, who threaded a pass through to Thomas. Cutting inside onto her left, Thomas squeezed a shot into the bottom right corner, just beyond the diving reach of Fylde goalkeeper Liz Craven.
The Coasters responded positively to the setback. In the 32nd minute, Faye McCoy worked space on the edge of the area but dragged her effort wide.
Late in the first half, Merrin delivered another dangerous cross into the box that Darbyshire had to punch away under pressure before the ball was eventually cleared. At the other end, Craven also showed a safe pair of hands to collect Ellie Fletcher’s cutback from the right. It proved to be the last action of a breathless opening 45 minutes.
Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-1 Liverpool Feds WFC
The Coasters made the perfect start to the second half and levelled within a minute of the restart. Attacking down the right, Amy Hughes shrugged off several challenges before crossing into a crowded box. Her deflected cross fell to Rowe, who controlled the ball before slotting home into the bottom right corner. It was a typically cool finish from the midfielder to bring the score level.
Fylde went in search of a second, only to leave themselves somewhat open at the back. In the 53rd minute, the Coasters failed to clear their defensive lines and were punished when Seagraves crossed to an unmarked Emma Johnson at the back post, and Johnson slammed a half-volley into the roof of the net to make it 2-1 to the visitors.
With momentum on their side, the Feds extended their lead in the 70th minute after playing a short free-kick from the right. Stewart squared to Seagraves, who turned into space and curled a looping effort into the back of the net. It was a superb long-range strike by the Feds playmaker to make it 3-1 with 20 minutes remaining.
In the 76th minute, the Feds added a fourth when Chantelle Thompson nodded the ball down to Cole inside the box and, as she was falling, Cole managed to scoop her shot into the far corner of the Fylde net.
The Coasters created a flurry of chances in the closing stages. Hannah Forster made an interception and quickly played in McCoy, who drilled a shot across goal, but Darbyshire was equal to it. Minutes later, Charlie Hignett beat two defenders with a skilful turn before firing on target, but Darbyshire made another smart save to keep the ball out.
Deep into stoppage time, the Feds were reduced to ten players when substitute Mollie Farley was dismissed for violent conduct in an off-the-ball altercation.
The result leaves the Coasters firmly ensconced in eighth place in the table with three games left to play.
Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 1-4 Liverpool Feds WFC
The Coasters do not have a fixture this weekend. Instead, they will be back on the training ground in preparation for their next assignment away to Huddersfield Town Women. This upcoming fixture will be played at the Stafflex Arena on Sunday 9th April, with kick-off at 2.00 pm.
AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Fryer, Young (14′ Bickett), Carroll, Merrin, Forster, Rowe, Hignett, Taylor, Hughes (76′ Fenton), McCoy
Unused substitutes: Hunter, Whitaker
Liverpool Feds WFC: Darbyshire, Johnson, Kinvig-Wardale, Stewart, Smith, Fletcher, Parry (70′ Farley), Seagraves, Thompson (79′ Devereaux), Cole (80′ Douglas), Thomas
Unused substitutes: Donoghue, Pope
Report by Scott Jones