The Coasters continued their winning ways with an emphatic 6-1 win over Middlesbrough Women FC at Kellamergh Park.
The victory moved the Coasters to the top of the FAWNL Northern Premier Division thanks to goals from Jess Holbrook, Faye McCoy (x2), Jodie Redgrave (x2), and Mel Bartley.
Previously, the Coasters had kicked off the new year with a 2-0 home win against Loughborough Lightning. As for their opponents, Middlesbrough Women came into the fixture on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Burnley FC Women at Bedford Terrace.
For the hosts, joint managers Kim Turner and Danielle Young made several changes to the starting line-up by bringing in Sasha Rowe and Olivia Fuller at the back, whilst also giving starts to Jess Holbrook and Emily Hollinshead.
Prior to kick-off, the Coasters presented club captain Jenna Carroll with a framed shirt to celebrate her making a century of appearances for the club. The defender became only the third Fylde player to reach the milestone after more than five years of outstanding service.
In a frantic start to the game, the Coasters did not take long to open the scoring when Hollinshead raced to the by-line and squared the ball to Holbrook, who timed her run to perfection and converted from close range in the 5th minute.
Applying a high press, the Teessiders managed to draw level following an uncharacteristic mistake by Fylde keeper Ellie Etheridge that was punished clinically. The Reds striker Jess Foster charged down a back-pass and dispossessed Etheridge, before poking the ball into the bottom right corner to restore parity in the 11th minute.
Middlesbrough’s Imogen Longcake then saw a speculative drive saved well by Etheridge. Moments later, the Coasters counterattacked through Hollinshead, who beat the offside trap and dragged a shot agonisingly wide.
In the 19th minute, Hollinshead turned provider when she played a defence-splitting pass to Beth Donoghue, whose first-time shot flew narrowly over the crossbar.
The Teessiders then thought that they had taken the lead when striker Faye Dale pounced on a loose ball in the six-yard box and smashed it into the net, but the goal was disallowed for a collision on keeper Etheridge in the build-up. Despite the protests of the visiting bench, the goal was ruled out for a foul on Etheridge, who required treatment in the aftermath.
On the cusp of half-time, Fylde retook the lead thanks to a moment of real quality. Driving down the right, Rowe whipped a dangerous cross into the box that McCoy volleyed into the roof of the net, leaving Middlesbrough keeper Kayley Dunn with no chance.
Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 2-1 Middlesbrough Women FC
After sustaining an injury late in the first half, Fylde keeper Etheridge was replaced at the interval by Alex Taylor, who slotted into the back four, while Jenna Carroll deputised in goal for the remainder of the game.
The Coasters looked to put the game out of sight in the second half. On the hour mark, Redgrave won the ball on the edge of the area and saw a shot deflect behind for a corner kick. Holbrook floated the resulting corner to the back post, and McCoy rose highest to nod in Fylde’s third goal of the afternoon.
In the 72nd minute, Hollinshead thought that she had extended the Coasters’ lead when she raced through the middle and slotted the ball past Dunn, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Minutes later, it was Middlesbrough’s turn to feel aggrieved when Fylde scored their fourth goal of the game. When keeper Dunn jumped to collect a cross by Rowe, she spilt the ball under pressure from Donoghue, and Redgrave was on hand to turn the ball over the line. While the Reds were unhappy with the referee’s decision to allow Fylde’s fourth, there could be no arguing with the fifth.
Redgrave made it 5-1 to the Coasters in the 78th minute when she ghosted into the area to steer Rowe’s cross into the bottom left corner of the Middlesbrough goal. It was a sublime finish.
With the hosts in the ascendency, the introduction of Amy Hughes contributed to a flurry of goalmouth action in the closing stages.
After breaking down the left, Hughes showed great composure to round Dunn and prod the ball towards goal. As the ball bounced back off the post, substitute Mel Bartley smashed the rebound into the net for Fylde’s sixth deep into stoppage time.
Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 6-1 Middlesbrough Women FC
Next up, the Coasters travel to Penwortham Town Ladies FC on Sunday 23rd January for the quarter-final of the Lancashire FA Women’s Challenge Cup. Fylde’s next league fixture is a trip to the County Ground in Leyland, where they face Burnley FC Women on Wednesday 26th January.
AFC Fylde Women: Etheridge (46’ Taylor), Forster (88’ Bartley), Fuller, Carroll, Holbrook, Donoghue (79’ Hughes), Hollinshead (88’ Mortimer), Redgrave, Rowe, Fryer, McCoy
Unused substitute: Young