Thursday 4th May 2023
Photo: Heather Watson - AFC Fylde Women Media
AFC Fylde Women signed off the 2022/23 season on Sunday with an impressive 2-1 win over Boldmere St. Michaels Women FC at Kellamergh Park.
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, the Coasters came from behind in the second half to beat Boldmere St. Michaels 2-1 and secure all three points in their final game of the campaign.
Evie Billingsley put the Mikes Women ahead at the start of the second half before Alex Taylor netted the equaliser just past the hour mark.
Five minutes later, Rebecca Beresford completed the turnaround for the Coasters when she finished neatly into the bottom corner for the winner.
A final-day victory meant that James Mallett’s team ended the season strongly and climbed to seventh in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division table, having collected 26 points after all 22 games played.
Mallett named the same starting eleven that faced West Bromwich Albion Women last time out. However, he was forced into a last-minute change after striker Faye McCoy picked up an injury in the warm-up and was replaced by Salma Simonin, who had impressed in recent weeks.
In a cagey opening to the game, Fylde enjoyed much of the possession but struggled to create any clear-cut chances against a well-organised Boldmere defence.
Sasha Rowe was the first to test visiting goalkeeper Jodie Whiteman in the sixth minute with a speculative effort that was comfortably saved. Rowe soon threatened again when she flashed a free-kick just over the crossbar and onto the roof of Whiteman’s net.
The Mikes Women also found it difficult to create any clear openings in the final third. With 20 minutes on the clock, Pip Wilson’s stinging drive from distance was blocked by Cara Bickett before the loose ball was gathered by Fylde goalkeeper Liz Craven.
Two minutes later, Laura Merrin swung in a corner kick that fell invitingly to Simonin, who stretched to poke a shot towards goal, but Whiteman made a vital stop with her feet.
Finding space down the left wing, Emma Siddall played a one-two with Merrin before crossing for Taylor, who tried to dink the ball over the advancing goalkeeper, but Whiteman made a point-blank save to deny her in the 33rd minute.
The visitors had to wait until the 41st minute to muster their first notable chance when a cross from the right found Wilson, who stooped to direct a header on goal, but Craven palmed it away to safety.
At the other end, Simonin caused the Boldmere backline more problems when she jinked past two defenders and centred for Taylor, who lunged forward but was unable to turn the ball in from close range.
There was no separating the two teams going into the interval.
Half-Time: AFC Fylde Women 0-0 Boldmere St. Michaels Women FC
Both teams came out in the second half with renewed determination to find the breakthrough, and it was the Mikes Women who broke the deadlock in the 49th minute.
Billingsley controlled a pass on the left wing, cut inside and arrowed a right-footed shot through a crowded penalty area and into the far corner of the net, leaving Craven with no chance.
The Coasters responded positively to the setback with two quick-fire chances. First, Iszy Binks took aim with a half-volley just outside the area, but Whiteman was equal to it.
Taylor then found herself through on goal but failed to connect properly with her shot before Whiteman made another smart save.
However, Taylor’s next opportunity proved fruitful when she darted into the box and slotted into the far corner from an acute angle. Taylor’s leveller gave the Coasters an extra spring in their step as they went in search of further goals.
The second goal duly arrived in the 70th minute when Beresford broke clear through the middle and tucked the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 2-1, marking her first goal for the club since arriving on loan from Everton Women.
After taking the lead, Fylde managed to nullify any threat of a comeback in the final quarter of an hour. Boldmere’s Hayleigh Sutton saw her long-range strike saved by Craven before Hannah Fryer made a crucial interception to prevent Trina Greaves’s sweeping cross from reaching the Boldmere forwards in the box.
The Coasters saw out the game and rounded off the season with their fourth win out of the last six games.
Full-Time: AFC Fylde Women 2-1 Boldmere St. Michaels Women FC AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Binks, Fryer, Bickett, Merrin, Forster, Rowe, Siddall, Taylor, Simonin (76′ Whitaker), Beresford. Unused substitutes: Hunter, Hughes, Fenton. Boldmere St. Michaels Women FC: Whiteman, Sutton, Sherrell, Travers, Bickley, Billingsley (71′ Abdallah), Kirk, Da’Casto (60′ Greaves), Edwards, Joyce (71′ Grove), Wilson. Unused substitute: Reynolds. Report by Scott Jones