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Match Report: Derby County Women v AFC Fylde Women

Sunday 24th March 2024

FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division

AFC Fylde Women suffered a 2-1 defeat to Derby County Women on Sunday after a closely fought contest at the Don Amott Arena.

Photo: Heather Watson - AFC Fylde Women

Jake Williams’s and Steve Mainwaring’s team were looking to build on the positives of recent performances when they travelled to Mickleover to face Sam Griffiths’s Derby County.

It was a familiar tale for the Coasters, who put in an assured display and created a host of chances but were unable to make their pressure count in front of goal.

After a goalless first half, the Ewe Rams gained the ascendancy early in the second period after Amy Sims and Hannah Ward gave them a two-goal cushion. Fylde remained undeterred, however, and skipper Sasha Rowe halved the deficit late on to set up an exciting finale.

Ultimately, the Coasters ran out of time to grab an elusive second to rescue what would have been a deserved point on their travels.

Ahead of kick-off, Fylde were delighted to announce the signing of midfielder Holly Kelsh-Ridge, who came straight into the side. Imogen Maguire also made her debut in between the sticks, while defender Maria Francis-Jones returned for only her second appearance for the club.

On a bright afternoon in Derbyshire, Fylde took the game to their hosts. Lois Moore stretched the home defence with her pace and trickery on the ball, jinking past two defenders before sending in a teasing cross that was scrambled clear.

At the other end, Derby probed from a series of corner kicks, but the Fylde backline stood firm as Maguire reacted well to push away Eleanor Ashton’s delivery to the back post.

In the 13th minute, Derby nearly scored from a free-kick just outside the area. Rebecca May’s lofted attempt hit the base of the post, before the rebound was eventually cleared by Iszy Binks.

Moments later, Rowe released Clara Samson out wide, who centred towards the back post. Demi Devereaux almost connected but Derby defender Sarah Jackson made a vital interception.

Moore was at the heart of Fylde’s next move as she fired just over the crossbar. The Ewe Rams were next to threaten as Ashton raced through and dragged her shot wide from an acute angle.

Just past the hour mark, Moore and Devereaux combined well to create another chance, but Devereaux’s run was curtailed by the offside flag.

With half-time approaching, Fylde counterattacked as Kelsh-Ridge played in Samson, who almost found herself through on goal, but Derby goalkeeper Sarah Morgan rushed out to gather the ball.

Half-Time: Derby County Women 0-0 AFC Fylde Women

The Ewe Rams made a blistering start to the second half and broke the deadlock in the 48th minute. May centred from the left for Derby captain Sims to steer a first-time shot into the roof of the net for the opener.

It soon got worse for the Coasters as the hosts doubled their lead in the 58th minute. May sprayed a pass out to Hannah Ward on the left-hand edge of the area. Ward curled a first-time effort past Maguire and into the back of net. It was a spectacular strike by Derby’s club captain to make it 2-0.

In the 72nd minute, Derby substitute Marli Rhodes-Andrews looked destined to score when she took aim from 30 yards out, but Maguire made a superb fingertip save to push it onto the bar.

Two minutes later, the Coasters came close as Moore intercepted a loose back-pass inside the box but scooped her hurried effort over the bar.

Fylde grabbed a lifeline in the 84th minute when Samson was brought down by a late challenge inside the box. Rowe converted the resulting penalty with a side-footed finish into the bottom right corner, sending Morgan the wrong way.

In the closing minutes, the Coasters pressed forward in search of an equaliser, but the Ewe Rams held out to claim a 2-1 victory.

Full-Time: Derby County Women 2-1 AFC Fylde Women

Derby County Women: Morgan, Jenkins (63’ Meadows), Steggles (63’ Shepherd), Jackson, Ward, Wilson, Joyce, May (68’ Sheridan), Sims, O’Connor (62’ Rai), Ashton (68’ Rhodes-Andrews)

AFC Fylde Women: Maguire, Thomas, Hamill, Strutton, Francis-Jones, Rowe, Binks, Kelsh-Ridge, Samson, Devereaux (67’ Rogers), Moore (85’ Wood)

Unused substitute: Craven

Report by Scott Jones

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