On a breezy Sunday at Kellamergh Park, AFC Fylde Women secured their passage into the next round of the FA Women’s National League Plate with a 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC.
After Jess Andrews had put the Belles ahead with a stunning free-kick, Jenna Carroll’s deflected cross levelled proceedings shortly before the break before captain Hannah Forster netted the winner early in the second half to complete the turnaround for the Coasters.
Danielle Young’s team showed flair and tenacity in equal measure to overcome Nick Buxton’s well-organised Belles side, who proved to be tough opposition over the course of the 90 minutes.
Previously, the Coasters exited the FAWNL Cup in the Determining Round with a 2-1 loss at home to Derby County Women. As a result, the Coasters entered the FAWNL Plate and began with an intriguing First Round tie against the Belles, who usually compete a division below in the FAWNL Division One Midlands.
Last time out, Fylde extended their recent unbeaten run in the league with a thrilling 2-2 draw at home to Loughborough Lightning.
Danielle Young made several changes to the starting line-up with starts for Charlie Hignett in midfield, Iszy Binks at right full-back, and Katie Smith up front. Goalkeeper Megan Hunter featured among the substitutes, making a welcome return after a spell out through injury.
The visitors from South Yorkshire started brightly and took the game to their higher-league opponents. 
In an early attack, Oti Laki raced down the left and pulled the ball back to Nadia Khan in the area, but Kahn could not keep her volley down and failed to trouble Grace Pomfret in the Fylde goal.
The hosts then hit the woodwork when Faye McCoy turned expertly in the box and hit a low shot that glanced the outside of the post.
After the visitors were awarded a direct free-kick some 30 yards out, Belles captain Jess Andrews stepped up to fire a blistering strike into the top corner and give the Belles the lead in the 17th minute. Andrews’ right-footed effort flew past Pomfret’s outstretched dive and into the back of the net for the opener.
In the 37th minute, the Coasters found a way back into the contest when they similarly scored from a long-range free-kick. Alex Taylor squared the ball to Jenna Carroll, who lofted a cross into the box that took a wicked deflection off the head of Belles defender Freya Rattenbury and looped over Ellie Sharpe in the visiting goal.
On the cusp of half-time, Iszy Binks was inches away from bursting the back of the net when she smashed a first-time shot from the edge of the area against the crossbar. Only moments later, the referee blew the half-time whistle.
Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 1-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC
With the tie still firmly in the balance, the Coasters made the best possible start to the second period.
Hignett played an inch-perfect pass to McCoy on the edge of the area, who neatly turned and shot towards the bottom right corner. Although Sharpe managed to parry McCoy’s initial effort, Forster was on hand to steer home the rebound from a tight angle and put the Coasters in the ascendancy.
Both sides continued to battle hard to gain an advantage in the final third. In the closing stages, the Coasters pressed high up the pitch and almost found a third when Katie Smith capitalised on a mix-up in the Belles’ defence, but her subsequent attempt went wide of the post.
In the 89th minute, Fylde substitute Amy Hughes played a delightful cross from the left that almost found Sasha Rowe at the back post. However, the Belles defence somehow managed to hook the ball clear before Rowe could connect with the cross.
The Coasters saw out the game to claim the victory and advance to the Second Round of the FAWNL Plate.
Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 2-1 Doncaster Rovers Belles LFC
Next up, the Coasters kick-start the new month with a trip to Boldmere St Michaels in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division. This away fixture will be played on Sunday 6th November, with kick-off at 2.00 pm.
AFC Fylde Women: Pomfret, Binks, Taylor, Carroll, Merrin, Forster, Rowe, Hignett, Hollinshead, McCoy (78′ Hughes), Smith
Unused substitutes: Hunter, Fryer, Young
Report by Scott Jones