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Match Report: Stoke City FC Women v AFC Fylde Women

Sunday 28th April 2024

FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division

Photo: Heather Watson - AFC Fylde Women

AFC Fylde Women suffered a 5-0 defeat on Sunday at the hands of Stoke City Women at Emerys Stadium.

In their penultimate game of the season, the Coasters travelled to Norton in Staffordshire for their rearranged clash with the Potters. This fixture had previously fallen foul of the weather on three separate occasions, so it came as a relief that the game could finally be played at the end of April.

Last time out, the Coasters rounded off their home campaign with a morale-boosting victory over Huddersfield Town Women. Jake Williams’s and Steve Mainwaring’s team were eager to build upon that positive result when they faced Marie Hourihan’s Potters a week later.

However, it turned into a tough afternoon for the visitors as Stoke City ran out 5-0 winners on home soil. After a controversial dismissal in the opening stages, Fylde were forced to play most of the game with only ten players.

Hourihan’s City side exploited their player advantage by scoring five goals without reply to cement their fifth place in the standings, while already-relegated Fylde remained bottom of the table after a dismal defeat on the road.

Fylde’s starting line-up saw Minnie Rogers return in midfield and Holly Kelsh-Ridge play up front, while Sophie Tudor replaced Molly Holder for the Potters.

The hosts broke the deadlock in the 14th minute after Roisin Kivel scored directly from a corner kick. Kivel’s inswinging delivery sailed all the way into the net, despite Liz Craven’s best efforts to palm the ball away.

The Coasters were reduced to ten players only two minutes later when Iszy Binks caught Shannon Stamps with an honest but mistimed tackle that the referee deemed worthy of a straight red card.

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Fylde competed well but were restricted to limited opportunities in front of goal. On one such occasion, Holly Kelsh-Ridge hit a powerful free-kick that drew a smart save from Georgie Ferguson in the City goal.

With half-time approaching, the Potters doubled their advantage when Stamps rifled home from distance. After Kivel broke down the left flank, she squared to Stamps, who fired past Craven with an unstoppable strike from 25 yards out.

The Potters extended their lead in the 45th minute after Alice Higginbottom scored with a spectacular effort of her own. Following a quick one-two, Higginbottom darted towards the edge of the box and unleashed a left-footed drive that deflected off Sasha Rowe’s outstretched leg and looped over Craven on its way into the net.

Half-Time: Stoke City FC Women 3-0 AFC Fylde Women

Moments after the restart, it got even worse for Fylde after the Potters were awarded a dubious penalty for a handball offence. A cross from the left inadvertently struck Karri Chan’s right arm at close quarters. Though Chan could do nothing about it, the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot. 

Heidi Logan converted the penalty as she confidently tucked the ball into the bottom left corner to make it 4-0.

On the hour mark, the Potters grabbed their fifth of the afternoon. Kivel whipped in a cross that was headed clear by Thomas, but only into the path of Sophie Tudor, who guided her header into the bottom left corner. Tudor perfectly timed her run to head home and add her name to the scoresheet.

In the final half-hour, Fylde managed to stem the tide and came close to pulling a goal back through Clara Samson, who saw her goalbound attempt blocked by City defender Abbi Jenner. For all their best efforts, the Coasters could not find a way through to make any difference to the scoreline.

Full-Time: Stoke City FC Women 5-0 AFC Fylde Women

Stoke City FC Women: Ferguson, Thompson, Molinari (69’ Al-Qaimi), Jenner (80’ McEvoy), Suttie, Tudor (80’ Philpott), Murphy, Higginbottom (60’ Lloyd), Logan, Stamps (60’ Holder), Kivel

AFC Fylde Women: Craven, Binks, Hamill, Strutton, Thomas, Rowe (59’ Whitaker), Rogers, Dale, Kelsh-Ridge, Chan, Samson

Unused substitute: Maguire

Report by Scott Jones

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