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AFC Fylde Women – 2023/24 Midseason Review

Photo: Heather Watson - AFC Fylde Women

AFC Fylde Women have reached the halfway stage of the 2023/24 season in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division. As the year draws to a close, let us look back on how the Coasters have fared so far this campaign.

After a strong seventh-place finish last term, AFC Fylde Women embarked on a new era with the appointment of First-Team Manager Jack Garside and the recruitment of ten new players to enhance the squad.

The Coasters kicked off the new season on 20th August when they travelled to the Stafflex Arena to face Huddersfield Town Women.

On the opening day, Fylde came away empty-handed after a 4-2 loss in West Yorkshire. The Coasters twice held the lead with goals from Ginny Lackey either side of the interval. However, Glen Preston’s Terriers restored parity before adding two more goals to claim the victory.

Fylde started September with a 4-0 defeat to Newcastle United Women at Kellamergh Park. Although they competed well for large spells of the game, the Coasters were undone by some clinical finishing by Becky Langley’s Magpies, who deservedly took home all three points.

On the following Thursday, Fylde entertained Rebecca Sawiuk’s Burnley Women under the lights at Kellamergh Park. Despite matching their opponents for most of the contest, the Coasters went down 3-0 to the Claret Women.

Burnley opened the scoring when Leah Embley fired into the bottom corner. Lily Murphy almost levelled for Fylde just before the break but was denied by the upright. Aimee Kelly then came off the bench to score twice in the second half and wrap up the win for the visitors.

Three days later, Fylde travelled to Grange Park to meet last season’s champions Nottingham Forest Women. Mai Moncaster bagged a brace early on to give the Reds a two-goal advantage.

The Coasters halved the deficit when Ginny Lackey pounced on a defensive error and slotted home.

Forest restored their two-goal cushion when Chloe Dixon rounded off a solo run with a neat finish. Fylde could not add to their own tally in the second half as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat.

The Coasters continued their winless start with a 2-0 reverse at home to Stourbridge FC Women. Fylde produced a strong attacking display but could not convert their chances. Instead, it was the Glass Girls who claimed all three points courtesy of goals from Kelsey Richardson and Niamh Deasy.

Fylde ended September with a 5-0 loss to Wolves Women at New Bucks Head. Dan McNamara’s team took a commanding lead in the first half with goals from Tammi George, Beth Merrick, and Destiney Toussaint, who bagged a hat-trick. Wolves inflicted the damage in the opening 45 minutes, but Fylde gave an improved performance in the second half and battled right until the final whistle.

In early October, the Coasters picked up their first point of the season after a thrilling 2-2 draw at home to West Bromwich Albion Women. Lily Murphy put Fylde ahead when she ran onto Sasha Rowe’s through ball and fired into the far corner. The Baggies levelled soon after the restart when Olivia Rabjohn bent an exquisite shot into the top corner.

The Baggies gained the lead when Jannelle Straker’s long-range strike found the top corner for what seemed to be the winner. However, the Coasters had other ideas as Ginny Lackey equalised with an audacious lob from the halfway line that sailed over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

In their next midweek fixture, Fylde twice came from behind to earn a 2-2 draw against Liverpool Feds at Kellamergh Park. Paige Cole put the visitors ahead early in the second half, before Lily Murphy drew Fylde level on the hour mark. Cole scored again to restore the Feds’ lead, only for Murphy to net a precious equaliser right at the death.

Fylde ended October with a 4-0 loss to Derby County Women at Kellamergh Park. In their third home game within a fortnight, the Coasters faced Samantha Griffiths’ in-form Ewe Rams, who proved to be too strong on the day with goals from Rebecca May, Amy Sims, Emelia Wilson and Kira Rai.

After a series of cup fixtures, Fylde returned to league action in late November when they hosted Rob Mitchell’s Halifax FC Women. The Coasters made the perfect start with goals from Clara Samson and Ginny Lackey.

Ultimately, they had to settle for a share of the spoils after the Eagles snatched an equaliser in stoppage time to make it 2-2. Despite the late setback, Fylde earned a point that lifted them off the foot of the table.

After a disappointing run of results, Jack Garside was relieved of his duties at the end of November. While the Club searches for a new First-Team Manager, Assistant Manager Connor Wild has taken charge of the side on an interim basis.

The Coasters played their final game of the year on 17th December when they faced Newcastle United Women at Kingston Park. It turned into a difficult afternoon for the visitors as the Magpies exerted their dominance and ran out 11-3 winners to extend their lead at the top of the table.

On a positive note, Fylde scored three outstanding goals courtesy of strikes from Lily Murphy, Alex Taylor and Ginny Lackey.

At this halfway stage, the Coasters find themselves bottom of the table after eleven games played. It could be argued that the team have merited more points on the board, but there is still a long way to go in the second half of the season. In 2024, the Coasters will be aiming to pick up as many points as possible as they look to move up the table.

Words by Scott Jones

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