AFC Fylde Women’s difficult start to the season continued on Sunday with a 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest Women at Grange Park. 

Jack Garside’s team faced one of their toughest tests of the season when they travelled to the East Midlands to meet last season’s league champions Nottingham Forest Women.

Having recorded emphatic wins in their opening two league games, Carly Davies’s Forest side ultimately got the better of the Coasters on Sunday to extend their winning start to the campaign. 

In an action-packed first half, Fylde suffered an early setback when Mai Moncaster bagged a quick-fire brace inside the opening eleven minutes to give the Reds a two-goal cushion.

The Coasters showed great character to work their way back into the contest and halved the deficit when Ginny Lackey capitalised on a defensive error to register her third goal of the season. 

As Fylde searched for the equaliser, Forest then restored their two-goal advantage when Chloe Dixon rounded off a fine solo run with a composed finish.

The Coasters managed to keep the hosts at bay in the second period but were unable to add to their tally as the game progressed. 

In a frantic start to proceedings, Forest went ahead with only eight minutes on the clock. Holly Manders dribbled forward before playing a back-heeled flick into the path of Moncaster, who hit a first-time shot into the roof of the net – a stunning strike to open the scoring. 

Buoyed by the breakthrough, the Reds doubled their lead within minutes when Moncaster grabbed her second of the game. Dixon cut inside from the right and squared to Moncaster, who controlled the ball inside the box before firing into the bottom right corner past Liz Craven in the Fylde goal. 

Forest almost added a third moments later when Mollie Green’s thunderous strike cannoned against the crossbar before the rebound was cleared from danger. 

In the 18th minute, Lackey showed her striker’s instincts to pull a goal back for the Coasters. Pouncing on a loose back pass, Lackey rounded Forest goalkeeper Emily Batty and coolly slotted home under pressure from Reds defender Lyndsey Harkin. The goal handed Fylde a lifeline as they looked to change the tide. 

At the other end, Craven then made a smart save to deny Freya Thomas’s effort, and Emma Siddall reacted well to clear the ball to safety. 

After being awarded a free-kick, Fylde captain Sasha Rowe swung in an inviting cross that found Lois Moore in space, but Moore could only direct her effort wide of the post. 

Forest extended their lead when Dixon added a third just after the half-hour mark. Racing onto a long ball over the top, Dixon showed great skill to sprint past two defenders, cut inside and steer the ball home with a left-footed finish. The Reds held the lead at the break. 

Half-Time: Nottingham Forest Women 3-1 AFC Fylde Women 

At the start of the second half, Fylde made a double substitution as Iszy Binks and Codie Thomas entered the fray. 

The hosts were next to threaten when Dixon’s cross from the right almost picked out Mollie Green on the edge of the six-yard box, but the ball bounced harmlessly out of touch. 

After Lily Murphy had been introduced to provide firepower in attack, Fylde also brought on Demi Devereaux, who was making her debut after arriving from Liverpool Feds earlier in the week. 

Murphy was soon in the thick of the action as she found space and got a shot away, but Batty was equal to it. 

Forest winger Sophie Domingo made an instant impact off the bench when she found herself through on goal in the 68th minute.

Running onto Green’s through ball, Domingo hit a first-time shot that seemed destined for the top corner, only for Craven to make an incredible fingertip save to push it onto the crossbar. 

In the closing stages, the Coasters did well to withstand Forest’s attacking pressure but could not convert any chances of their own to avoid slipping to defeat. 

Full-Time: Nottingham Forest Women 3-1 AFC Fylde Women

AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Taylor, Hamill, Strutton (46’ Thomas), Siddall (46’ Binks), Rowe, Samson, Heria, Beresford (63’ Devereaux), Lackey, Moore (55’ Murphy)

Unused substitute: Pilling
Nottingham Forest Women: Batty, Harkin, Johnson, Cook, Moncaster, Manders (85’ Reynolds), Dixon (62’ Domingo), Thomas, Anderson, James, Green
Unused substitutes: O’Neill, Greengrass

Report by Scott Jones