On Wednesday night, AFC Fylde Women came out on the losing side of a thrilling Lancashire derby against Burnley FC Women at Kellamergh Park.
In an entertaining midweek game under the lights, the Coasters put in an improved performance but ended up losing 4-2 to a strong Burnley side, who continued their unbeaten start to the campaign.
As for the Coasters, the home defeat leaves Danielle Young’s team still searching for their maiden victory of the new season in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division.
The Coasters came into this fixture on the back of a 2-0 loss away to high-flying Nottingham Forest Women last weekend. As for their opponents, Jonathan Morgan’s Burnley side had secured a 1-0 win over Stoke City Women last time out.
Prior to kick-off, both teams held a minute’s applause to remember former Fylde player Zoe Tynan, six years on from her passing. The Fylde number 19 shirt is retired in her memory.
The game began at a frenetic pace with neither side able to gain any real control. Burnley created a chance early on when a corner kick fell invitingly to Emma Taylor in the box, but she could only scoop her effort over the crossbar.
Moments later, Fylde goalkeeper Megan Hunter made a smart save to keep out Ellie May’s shot at the near post.
In the 18th minute, Burnley came close to breaking the deadlock when May played in Sarah Greenalgh, who deftly chipped the ball over the advancing Hunter, but Fylde defender Jenna Carroll recovered well to make an outstanding goal-line clearance.
Unfortunately, the Coasters failed to clear their defensive lines several minutes later. Burnley striker Evie Priestley raced on to a clearance through the middle and calmly rounded Hunter before rolling the ball into the empty net to give the visitors an early lead.
The Coasters responded positively to the setback with a series of attacks down both flanks. In particular, Sasha Rowe caused the visiting defence all sorts of problems, and she fired in a dangerous cross that Burnley goalkeeper Lauren Bracewell gathered well under pressure.
Pushing forward once more, Fylde captain Hannah Forster was then brought down on the edge of the area. Faye McCoy took aim from the free-kick but sliced her effort wide of the post.
At the other end, Burnley then threatened when Lizzy Hamer squared the ball to Leah Embley, whose stinging drive clipped the outside of the post from a narrow-angle.
In the 37th minute, Amy Hughes scored a deserved equaliser with an exquisite left-footed finish into the top corner. After regaining possession high up the pitch, McCoy played a first-time ball through to Hughes, who sprinted clear and lofted the ball over Bracewell for the leveller.
With half-time fast approaching, the hosts were forced into a change when Hunter went down injured after landing awkwardly while attempting to collect a cross. As a result, Ellie Etheridge replaced Hunter in the Fylde goal.
Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 1-1 Burnley FC Women
The second half got off to the worst possible start for the Coasters when they conceded in the 47th minute. After Dom Cooper’s looping effort was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Etheridge, Priestley was on hand to tap in the rebound from point-blank range and put the visitors back in front.
Refusing to let their opponents settle, Burnley extended their lead only minutes after the restart, this time courtesy of a volleyed finish by the impressive Millie Ravening. After a Burnley corner was initially headed clear, Ravening showed great composure on the edge of the area to volley the ball through a crowd of Fylde defenders and into the bottom corner, leaving Etheridge unsighted.
The third goal left the Coasters with a mountain to climb to get back into the contest. However, Young’s team simply refuse to know when they are beaten. The introduction of attacking substitutes Emily Hollinshead and Iszy Binks helped the Coasters to advance higher up the pitch as the second half progressed, while Katie Smith worked tirelessly to press from the front.
Sasha Rowe fashioned the next chance when she shot from distance, but her effort was held by Bracewell. On the hour mark, the Coasters thought that they had scored when Laura Merrin’s corner kick was bundled over the line, but the goal was disallowed for an apparent foul on Bracewell, much to the home side’s frustration.
The Coasters eventually pulled a goal back in the 84th minute when McCoy headed past Bracewell to set up a grandstand finish. After finding space on the right, Merrin curled in a sublime cross that found McCoy at the back post, and the striker made no mistake with a towering header into the roof of the net.
As the Coasters pressed for a late equaliser, Burnley restored their two-goal cushion with virtually the last action of the game. Priestley completed her hat-trick with a powerful finish from close range to round off a clinical attacking performance by the visitors.
Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 2-4 Burnley FC Women
The Coasters will look to bounce back when they travel to the West Midlands to face West Bromwich Albion Women on Sunday 4th September. This league fixture will be played at Keys Park in Hednesford, with kick-off at 2.00 pm.
AFC Fylde Women: Hunter (42’ Etheridge), Fryer (55’ Hollinshead), Carroll, Cook, Merrin, Forster, Rowe, Holbrook (72’ Binks), Smith (87’ Pearson), Hughes, McCoyUnused substitute: Taylor
Report by Scott Jones