AFC Fylde Women made it a happy homecoming at Kellamergh Park on Sunday 5 September as they ran out convincing 3-0 winners against Hull City Ladies FC courtesy of goals from Emily Hollinshead, Faye McCoy and Sasha Rowe. The emphatic victory extended the Coasters’ unbeaten start to the season and returned them to the top of the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division.
After an entertaining goalless draw away against Wolves Women FC last Sunday, the Coasters were looking to get back to winning ways at the more familiar setting of Kellamergh Park following a brief absence. Fylde joint managers Kim Turner and Danielle Young could not have asked for a better return as their team put in another impressive performance, built on a possession-based style that yielded a whole host of chances in both halves of the match.
The Coasters made one notable change to the starting line-up with Sasha Rowe replacing Jodie Redgrave on the right, while Amy Hughes reverted to the left. And it was the hard-working Hughes who fashioned the first attack on goal as she dribbled down the left and squared to Rowe, who could only slice the ball wide. Employing a high attacking press from the kick-off, the Coasters did not have long to wait before their early pressure bore fruit.
The opener arrived barely 10 minutes in from a corner kick floated in by Jess Holbrook that Hull shotstopper Megan Cooke could only smother, before Fylde’s Hollinshead pounced on the loose ball in the box and arrowed it into the bottom left corner. Only a minute later, Laura Merrin was causing the visitors further problems as she burst down the left and bent an inviting cross for the talismanic McCoy to attack at the back post, but McCoy glanced her header wide.
Hollinshead was at the heart of the action once again as she raced down the left and won a corner kick, which was then lofted over to the back post, but it eluded everyone. But when the ball was sent back in from the right, it dropped at the feet of Alex Taylor, who was clumsily tripped just inside the box. McCoy confidently despatched the penalty by hammering the ball into the bottom left corner to send goalkeeper Cooke the wrong way. Doubling their advantage with hardly 20 minutes on the clock, the Coasters were already asserting their dominance on a warm sunny afternoon.
Playing at such a high tempo, Fylde continually sought to exploit space down the flanks and get early crosses into the box for the dangerous duo of McCoy and Hollinshead up front. Offering support from the midfield, Jess Holbrook soon created a chance of her own as she collected the ball on the edge of the Hull box and fired a curling shot that Cooke did well to palm around her right post.
Taking the hot conditions into account, the officials called for a drinks break moments later to allow both sets of players to rehydrate and take a breather. The timeout proved more beneficial to the Tigresses, who were struggling to gain a foothold in the contest. When a Fylde corner broke down, Hull playmaker Emily Smith headed away and looked to counterattack, but McCoy recovered to regain possession and nullify the threat. Not to be deterred, the visitors applied pressure of their own through Katie Thompson, who showed neat control before playing a throughball to Smith, but Fylde shotstopper Khiara Keating was sharply off her line to clear the ball away.
With more enterprising play on the left, Hughes rounded Hull defender Tillie Oxley and fired a low shot at the near post, but Cooke gathered comfortably. For the Tigresses, Hannah Langford wrestled back possession and hit a long pass for Anna Bowman to chase, but Olivia Fuller recovered the ground and shielded the ball out for a throw-in. As the first half drew to a close, the ever-present Rowe worked an opening down the right and found Holbrook driving into the box, but Holbrook could not stretch far enough to connect with the cross.
HT: AFC Fylde Women 2-0 Hull City Ladies FC
The Tigresses began the second half brightly as Langford ran down the left channel and attempted to catch Keating off guard, but her rushed shot was too weak to trouble the Fylde shotstopper. At the other end, Hollinshead evaded a number of challenges in the middle and almost threaded in Rowe for a one-on-one chance with the keeper, but her pass was just too long for Rowe to control. Recovering the ball some 30 yards out, Hollinshead then hit a long-range strike that almost fizzed inside the right post, but Cooke reacted well to parry the ball away. With the chances mounting up, the Coasters refused to ease up the pressure after the interval.
Hughes was next to shine as she expertly weaved her way past two Hull defenders and found space inside the box for a curling effort that was tipped onto the top of the crossbar by Cooke, much to the relief of the retreating Hull backline. Shortly afterwards, a penalty appeal was waved away when Rowe got in behind the Hull defence and centred to McCoy, who tried to turn to get a shot away from close range. As the ball bounced in the box, McCoy was clattered by an attempted clearance from the Hull defenders, but the referee allowed play to continue.
Probing for a way back into the game, Hull drove forward through Langford, who chipped a throughball to teammate Smith, but the latter could not stop herself from colliding with Keating inside the Fylde box. Fortunately, Keating was able to dust herself down and restart play from the resulting free-kick.
After seeing her initial shot blocked, McCoy curled a shot towards to Cooke’s right-hand post, but it floated narrowly wide. It was not long before the Coasters made their second-half dominance pay with a third goal netted by Rowe, who broke away from the Hull defence and smashed the ball home past Cooke. It was no less than Rowe deserved to cap her fine all-round display.
Shortly after being introduced as a substitute, Fylde’s Eve Whitaker created the next chance by controlling the ball on the edge of the area and looping a shot narrowly over the Hull goal. Whitaker impressed again by playing a reverse pass down the right for Hollinshead, whose first-time cross found Rowe at the back post, but Rowe failed to hit the target on this occasion.
After winning a free-kick on the edge of the Fylde box, Hull striker Thompson stepped up to curl a rasping shot on target, but Keating got down quickly to her right to parry the ball behind for a corner. The final chance of the game fell to Fylde captain Hannah Forster, who almost latched on to another pinpoint cross into the box from Merrin, but the ball just evaded Forster’s outstretched boot.
FT: AFC Fylde Women 3-0 Hull City Ladies FC
Next week, the Coasters take a short break from the FA Women’s National League and will turn their attention to an exciting FA Women’s League Cup tie at home to FC United of Manchester Women on Sunday 12 September, kick-off at 2.00 pm at Kellamergh Park.
Report by Scott Jones.