Wolves Women 0 AFC Fylde Women 0
Wolves Women maintained their unbeaten start to the 2021/22 FAWNL Northern Premier Division campaign with a goalless draw in the top of the table clash with AFC Fylde.
The two teams were tied at the league summit after both winning their opening three games of the season, but it was the visitors who started on the front foot, with Fylde firing over the crossbar in the first 30 seconds.
Fylde pressed Wolves right from kick-off, unsettling their rhythm almost straight away. However, by 10 minutes in, the game became a cagey affair, with no real clear-cut chances and both sides regaining possession in the middle of the park, it had all the symptoms of a tight, hard-fought fixture.
The first applause from the Wolves faithful came after an optimistic attempt from Tammi George. Wrapping her foot round the ball, with the aim of curling it into the top corner, it was a routine stop for the Fylde keeper Khiara Keating, who handled it comfortably.
Amber Hughes was next to try her luck. Beating the offside trap after an executed ball from George, this time the provider, she cut back onto her right-foot, allowing time for the defender to make a tackle.
Wolves were growing after riding the early storm. However, there was a warning sign from Faye McCoy, who raced through on goal for Fylde before hitting straight at Shannon Turner, which concluded a routine stop for the Wolves number one.
Jess Holbrook was next in trying to break the deadlock. Wolves, who boast an impressive clean sheet record, were almost undone on this occasion. Turner got down well to deny the effort, but the warning signs were getting stronger.
Alisha Miller was seeing a lot of the ball for Wolves on the right-hand side and her influence was growing despite the lack of attempts, but the next notable highlight was the best chance of the game. Jodie Redgrave found herself free in the Wolves box, with the ball approaching from the right-hand side. Maybe too much venom on the cross, the Fylde number 12 was left looking at the heavens after the chance went begging.
Miller, storming down the right-wing, aimed for the top corner after travelling with the ball, but Keating, between the sticks for Fylde, leapt to catch the rising effort.
George was on the hunt to break the deadlock on the brink of half-time. A cross, yet again from that right-hand side, found the Wolves number seven, who fired over with a header.
Half-time | Wolves 0-0 Fylde
Unlike the first 45, Wolves started on top in the second-half. George was at it again with a header, but once again, it sailed over the bar. Jade Cross tried her luck shortly after, but her attempt was lacking power.
It may have been a different half, but Miller was applying her same tricks on that right-flank. This time she beat the left-back before firing a cross towards the opposite wing. Nobody was there to meet the cross, leaving more frustration.
A purple patch for Fylde saw a surge of attempts halfway through the second half. Amy Hughes saw a powerful effort caught by Turner, who settled down a flurry of attacks.
The back end of the match saw a drop off in tempo and intensity. A sign of two evenly matched teams, still fighting to break the deadlock with five minutes remaining. Individual errors were starting to appear, leaving the door open for a potential snatch and grab. It really could go either way.
Wolves ultimately maintained their unbeaten start to this season thanks to another clean sheet.
Full-time | Wolves 0-0 Fylde
Wolves Women manager Dan McNamara was delighted with a point, despite having picking up maximum points in every other game this season.
“That was a very good game of football,” McNamara said, “with two teams who were giving absolutely everything.
“They are the best team we’ve played in a long time. I thought they were excellent, but we matched them. A point was a fantastic result.”
McNamara was also pleased with his side keeping their clean sheet record intact after making is four shutouts from four to begin the campaign.
“We have been promoted. We are new into tier three. We are hard to break down, that’s what we want. The back three, goalkeeper, the whole unit defensively has been amazing.
“We have played a lot of games this week. The game against Derby, the Black Country derby and now this. The girls have worked really hard.”
Forward Amber Hughes was unable to add to her goals on Sunday, but was delighted with the stubbornness of the team to achieve yet another clean sheet.
“Today was a big game,” she said. “We tried to play our game and we dug deep. We are still unbeaten, still not conceded. This is a great statistic to have.
“It will be a completely different challenge when we play Forest next week. We will do our homework and we will look to get the three points.”
Wolves Women play a third successive game at the CKW Stadium this Sunday afternoon when they look to extend their unbeaten run against Nottingham Forest (2pm).
Taking on a side who are established in the FAWNL Northern Premier Division, McNamara knows its going to be another tough challenge against a Forest side who now sit alongside Fylde and Wolves at the top of the table, all tied on 10 points.
“It’s a very hard league,” McNamara added. “We knew what we were going to get when we came into this. Forest have had an amazing window signing players, so it will be tough.”
05/09 | Nottingham Forest (H)
12/09 | Leeds United (H) WLC
26/09 | Huddersfield Town (A)
06/10 | Stoke City (A)
24/10 | Burnley (H)
Wolves: Turner, Darby, E. Cross, Morphet, Price, Holmes, George, Miller, Merrick, Hughes, J. Cross.
Subs: Thomas, Widdal, Palmer, Dicken, Joyce.
Fylde: Keating, Taylor, Forster, Fuller, Holbrook, Hollinshead, Merrin, Redgrave, Fryer, Hughes, McCoy.
Subs: Smith, Young, Rowe, Abbott, Pottinger.
Words by Jake Leach