AFC Fylde Women began their journey in the FAWNL League Cup on Sunday 12 September with an outstanding 9-0 win against FC United of Manchester Women at Kellamergh Park. The Coasters will surely feel on cloud nine after this resounding victory over their North West rivals.
Fylde were aiming to progress to the next round of the League Cup and maintain their early season momentum. Their visitors from Broadhurst Park compete in the tier below in the Women’s National League Division One North, and the Reds came into the tie in high spirits on the back of 6-2 win against Alnwick Town. Fylde joint managers Kim Turner and Danielle Young knew that their opponents were not to be underestimated.
Following last Sunday’s league win against Hull City Ladies, the Coasters made two changes to the starting eleven with Jodie Redgrave replacing Emily Hollinshead in attack and goalkeeper Savannah Smith taking the place of Khiara Keating, who was on duty for parent club Manchester City Women.
In keeping with recent performances, the Coasters showed a real attacking intent from the outset and clearly had their shooting boots on. Fylde’s Sasha Rowe fired an early warning shot with a 25-yard drive that narrowly cleared the crossbar. Amy Hughes soon created another opening by raiding the left channel and squaring the ball to Rowe, who shot narrowly wide. Switching to the right, Hughes then cut the ball across to Faye McCoy, who performed a clever dragback before aiming a shot at goal, but FC United shotstopper Chloe Ainsworth dived down to her left to steer the ball around the post.
Minutes later, Jess Holbrook had the ball in the back of the net when she smashed a piledriver across the face of the goal, but she was flagged for offside. Another piercing pass through the centre presented Hughes with a one-on-one opportunity, but the forward was quickly closed down by Ainsworth, who rushed out of her goal to clear the danger. In a breathless opening period, the Coasters refused to take their foot off the gas.
In the 14th minute, Rowe won a free-kick on the right after being tripped. Laura Merrin bent a dangerous cross into the box and McCoy rose highest to loop a header past Ainsworth and give Fylde a deserved lead. The Coasters did not take long to double their advantage as Rowe finished off a swift counterattacking move by stretching out her left boot to connect with Hughes’s low cross from the left.
As part of Fylde’s high defensive line, Hannah Fryer offered extra width on the right and squared to McCoy, who flicked the ball past a defender and prodded the ball towards goal, but Ainsworth charged out to block with her feet. However, there was no stopping Fylde’s third goal minutes later. This time, the poacher turned provider as Faye worked some space on the left, turned inside and fed a weighted throughball to Rowe, who beat the offside trap and hammered the ball past Ainsworth with conviction.
Struggling to get back into the tie, the Reds created a half chance after the restart when Katie O’Gara pounced on a loose ball and fired a long range effort towards goal, but it was easily collected by Savannah Smith in the Fylde net. At the other end, the Coasters still had time to create several more chances before the interval through Rowe, who pulled a shot wide of the left post, and McCoy, who managed to hit the target but her low strike was straight at Ainsworth.
HT AFC Fylde Women 3-0 FC United of Manchester Women
Shortly after the restart, the Coasters extended their lead through the impressive Redgrave, who netted directly from Merrin’s right-sided corner kick. When the Reds keeper Ainsworth failed to gather the initial cross, Redgrave seized on the loose ball and steered it home for Fylde’s fourth goal of the afternoon. The hosts had a golden chance minutes later as Rowe dribbled down the right and fizzed in a cross that Hughes directed towards goal with her chest, but Ainsworth pulled off a stunning reflex save at point blank range and pushed the ball onto the post.
Fylde’s fifth goal came from a moment of magic by Redgrave, who wrapped her right boot around the ball and arrowed a half volley into the bottom left corner. It was a sublime finish from the edge of the box that Ainsworth could do nothing to keep out. The Reds then produced their first shot on target when O’Gara cut in from the left and fizzed a shot at the Fylde goal, but Smith gathered comfortably.
Replacing McCoy up front, substitute Mel Bartley made an instant impact on the second half proceedings. The Coasters scored a sixth when Hughes lofted a delightful cross to the unmarked Bartley, who made no mistake with a powerful header past Ainsworth. The same pair combined brilliantly five minutes later when Hughes exploited space down the left and cut the ball back to Bartley, who swept a low drive into the bottom right corner for Fylde’s seventh goal.
Fellow substitute Jodie Mortimer was also in the thick of the action and provided an outlet down Fylde’s left. In the 82nd minute, she linked up well with Becky Abbot and sent a rasping drive just over the crossbar. Finding space in the box, Hughes then looked certain to score but was thwarted by a heroic defensive block by FC United’s Emily Marsh who deflected the ball to safety. In the next wave of attack, Merrin raced into the box and lashed a shot that Ainsworth did well to repel at her near post.
Merrin’s subsequent corner kick was only partially cleared to the edge of the box, where defender Olivia Fuller showed no hesitation in arrowing a first-time strike into the bottom left corner, leaving Ainsworth with no chance. Not content with eight goals, the Coasters pushed on to register their ninth goal deep into stoppage time. This time, Merrin delivered an inviting cross to Bartley, who nodded the ball past Ainsworth to complete a scintillating second-half hat-trick. It proved to be the last action of an undeniably one-sided contest.
FT AFC Fylde Women 9-0 FC United of Manchester Women
The Coasters now benefit from a week’s break before resuming their league campaign with an away trip to high-flying Nottingham Forest Women on Sunday 26 September.
Match Report by Scott Jones