FYLDE achieved both their targets on Saturday: a record crowd at Kellamergh Park and a victory to get them back on track in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier after the midweek defeat by Witton had halted their 10-match unbeaten run.
Dave Challinor’s side produced an outstanding display of counter-attacking football, despite playing more than half the game with 10 men after the dismissal of Bradley Barnes, as a first-half double from Richie Allen was followed by goals from fellow striker Adam Farrell and a ninth in eight games from Michael Barnes.
FC United were stunned in front of a crowd of 1,418, exceeding the previous record gate for Fylde’s friendly against a young Manchester United side three years ago.
After a bright opening by the visitors it was Allen who set the Coasters on their way after 15 minutes, getting onto the end of a loose ball to fire a sublime volley over advancing keeper James Spencer from the edge of the area.
He almost added his second nine minutes later but shot wide.
However, the loan frontman from Fleetwood Town did double the Coasters’ lead on 32 minutes, with an absolute stunner to silence the raucous FC United support.
Adam Sumner read the play brilliantly to intercept the ball from the path of Nicky Platt inside his own half.
The full-back surged forward and squared for Allen to unleash a bullet which had Spencer well beaten from 25 yards.
United were back in the game five minutes later, when Mike Norton turned Mike Taylor in the box and shot past Ben Hinchliffe.
Disaster struck for the home side four minutes before the break as Bradley Barnes was sent off for an apparent elbow, which went unseen by the referee but not his assistant, who rushed on to the pitch.
Despite the setback, Fylde’s defence held strong in the second period, denying both Jerome Wright and Kyle Jacobs before Fylde broke again and Farrell made it 3-1 on 59 minutes.
The goal followed an excellent run down the right from Michael Barnes, who could have made it four on 70 minutes.
He made up for that miss seven minutes later with a stunning solo goal. After winning the ball just inside his own half, Barnes proceeded to skin four defenders on his way to the edge of the area, from where he slid the ball under the approaching keeper to make it 4-1.
An intense period of United pressure followed as they searched for a ay back into the game but they had to wait until six minutes from time for their second goal. Greg Daniels headed home a Lee Neville cross but it was to no avail as the Coasters held out for a memorable victory and three points to lift them to seventh.
Delighted boss Challinor said: “It was a brilliant performance from start to finish in terms of the jobs people had to do. We started a bit slowly but after the first five minutes we were fantastic for the rest of the first half.
“We scored two fantastic goals and should have had two or three more, but the keeper made two good saves. The momentum of the game completely changed with the sending-off.
“We changed our shape a little and went to three at the back, and I told them if they did what we asked we’d get the result.
“You think it’s going to be a long 45 minutes to try to hold on to win 2-1, but to go on like we did was great.”
Town have played fewer games than all but one of the teams above them and would climb again with victory over Chorley at Victory Park tomorrow, after which they can look forward to Saturday’s visit of Ilkeston in the fourth and final qualifying round of the FA Cup.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Hughes, Taylor, B. Barnes (C), Booth, Winter, Farrell (Dean 76), M. Barnes, Allen (Jarvis 53); Subs not used: Steel, Dorney, McCarthy.