A wonder-strike from Sammy Conroy earned Nottingham Forest a hard-fought 1-0 win at home to Fylde in their first league action of 2019.
Forest started the first half brightly and hunted for the first goal inside the opening five minutes. Captain Kelly Darby ventured deep inside the Fylde half and cheekily pulled the ball past her marker and whipped in a great cross but The Coasters successfully cleared away the danger. Katie Middleton also impressed as she fought hard to earn back possession on the edge of the away side’s box but her cross was cleared away.
It was then The Coasters’ opportunity to search for an early lead. Danielle Young delivered a high cross into the Forest box which landed at the feet of Sophie Charlton but Conroy had read the ball well and was on hand to clear it away before the Fylde striker could arrange her feet to shoot.
The Reds were let off in the 17th minute as Trina Greaves nearly diverted the ball into the back of her own net. A Fylde corner came flying into the Forest box but Greaves misjudged her attempted clearance and the ball went towards the back of The Reds’ net but Rebecca Thomas got down to smother the ball.
Greaves was then involved in the action at the other end of the field as she calmly chipped the ball into The Coasters’ box and into the path of Ashleigh Edwards but Brittany Jackson was quick off her line to beat the Forest striker to the ball.
Lyndsey Harkin then delivered a high free-kick towards the edge of the Fylde box and into the centre of a swarm of red shirts but Greaves could only shoot wide of the target from a high and uncomfortable angle with her back to goal.
The Reds came close again from a set-piece after Sophia Bonser whipped in a superb corner. Conroy rose highest to meet the ball but she could only guide her header agonisingly wide of goal.
Thomas was called into action in the 37th minute as she had to deal with a dangerous set-piece from Young. The Fylde captain hit a weak, low free-kick towards the Forest goal but Thomas got down to comfortably deny her.
The Reds almost broke the deadlock before half-time as Greaves and Edwards were involved again. A great free-kick from Conroy flew deep inside the Fylde box, Jackson had rushed off her line to collect the ball but she failed to keep hold of it. Greaves and Edwards had pounced on the mistake but before either player could put the ball into the back of the empty net, the referee had called for a foul on the keeper.
Both teams came out fiercely hunting for the three points in the second half with the first opportunity falling to Sophie Charlton but she could only steer her header over the Forest crossbar.
The visitors had another chance in front of goal on the hour mark as the ball fell to Young on the edge of the area but her impressive volley was straight at Thomas who made the routine save.
Forest’s set-pieces finally paid off in the 63rd minute as The Reds deservedly carved out the opening goal of the game in style. Fylde failed to clear away a free-kick from Harkin and the ball bounced back to Conroy 20 yards out from goal. The influential midfielder took a touch before striking an unstoppable shot over the heads of The Coasters’ defence and Jackson in goal.
Edwards came close to doubling her side’s lead 10 minutes later as she struck an effort from inside the area but Jackson caught her shot at the near post and denied the midfielder.
The away side piled a lot of pressure on Forest in the closing minutes of the game that saw a nervy six minutes added on to the end of it but The Reds remained composed and well-organised to deny their opponents any sight of goal to ensure they won all three points.
Manager Graham Abercrombie spoke after the game and stated: “I thought the win was well deserved and a long time coming, we worked hard and stopped a really good team from playing. We created a couple of really good opportunities that were enough to win the game.”
Forest: Thomas, Wilson, Harkin, Walters, Darby (c), Constantinou, Greaves, Conroy, Bonser, Edwards (Emery 85’), Middleton (Hewitt 89’)
Subs not used: Hallam, Lee, Brown
Bookings: Emery (90+5’)
Goals: Conroy (63’)
Fylde: Jackson, Wild, Hollinshead, Forster, Fuller, Young (c), Kelsh, Charlton (Stevens 57’), Merrin, Rowe, DaCosta
Subs not used: Turner, Hignett, Payton