AFC Fylde Women picked up another vital victory on the road last Sunday by defeating Loughborough Lightning 1-0 at the Loughborough University Stadium.
Emma Siddall’s first-half goal proved to be the difference between the two sides as Fylde registered back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.
James Mallett’s Coasters were aiming to build momentum heading into the final five games of the campaign, starting with a tough trip to Loughborough for a fixture that had been brought forward by several weeks.
This rearranged fixture gave Mallett’s team the opportunity to follow up last weekend’s success with another three points on their travels.
Last time out, the Coasters returned to winning ways with a 2-1 victory away to Stoke City FC Women. After trailing at the interval, Fylde completed an impressive turnaround in the second half with goals from Amy Hughes and Alex Taylor.
In their previous league outing, Charlie Baxter’s Lightning side also recorded an impressive result when they held league leaders Nottingham Forest Women to a well-earned 2-2 draw.
In the first few minutes of the game, the Lightning threatened on the counter when striker Ella Powell latched onto a through ball, but Fylde goalkeeper Liz Craven charged out to clear the danger.
Minutes later, the Coasters were left wondering how they had not scored when they first saw an effort cannon off the crossbar before the rebound attempt was saved by Lightning goalkeeper Kiya Webb, who parried the ball behind for a corner.
In the 11th minute, Webb got down low to keep out Alex Taylor’s speculative drive and was again called into action soon after to punch away Faye McCoy’s powerful attempt on target.
Fylde made the breakthrough in the 17th minute directly from a corner kick. Emma Siddall sent in a dangerous delivery that had too much pace on it for Webb to keep out, and the ball was fumbled over the line. It was Siddall’s first goal for the club since recently arriving on loan.
The Coasters almost doubled their lead in the 26th minute when McCoy crossed for Danielle Young, but Young was unable to connect fully and steered her effort wide. Minutes later, Young tried her luck from range and drew a fine fingertip save from Webb, who managed to turn the shot around the post.
On the half-hour mark, the Lightning pressed for a leveller when Katie Middleton made a surging run upfield but was stopped in her tracks by Hannah Fryer’s goal-saving tackle just outside the box.
It allowed the Coasters to preserve their one-goal advantage heading into the break.
Half-Time: Loughborough Lightning 0-1 AFC Fylde Women
In the second half, the Coasters worked hard to maintain their shape and discipline as the Lightning searched for an equaliser.
In the 54th minute, Fylde’s Laura Merrin played an inch-perfect through ball to Salma Simonin, who quickly found herself in a one-on-one situation but could only drag her effort wide of the post.
In the 69th minute, Merrin attempted to play in Rebecca Beresford for a clear sight on goal, but Layleigh Hines made a crucial interception to avert the danger for the hosts.
At the other end, Fylde had to withstand a flurry of corner kicks late on, but their defence was expertly marshalled by the returning Jenna Carroll, while Craven did well to command her box under constant pressure from the Lightning attack.
In the closing minutes, the Coasters nearly added a second when substitute Amy Hughes linked up well with Alex Taylor in a late attack, and Taylor’s effort flew narrowly over the crossbar.
The result consolidates Fylde’s position in eighth in the table and should serve as a platform to build upon in the remaining games of the season.
Full-Time: Loughborough Lightning 0-1 AFC Fylde Women
Next up, the Coasters are preparing to welcome Liverpool Feds to Kellamergh Park on Wednesday evening. This rearranged fixture takes place on Wednesday 29th March, with kick-off at 7.45 pm.
Loughborough Lightning: Webb, Hines, Hateley, Strauss, Sharpe (60’ Bailey), Taft, Purchase, Greenwood, Middleton, Powell (46’ Stevens), Arber
AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Siddall, Fryer, Carroll, Merrin, Forster, Young, Taylor, Simonin (63’ Beresford), Samson, McCoy (71’ Hughes)Unused substitutes: Hunter, Bickett, Hignett
Report by Scott Jones