AFC Fylde 1 Barrow 0: Report and reaction

James Hardy celebrates the winning goal Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
James Hardy celebrates the winning goal Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

After waiting most of August for their first win in the National League, two have come along in rapid succession for AFC Fylde at the end of the month.

Having clinched three points at the sixth attempt at Hartlepool on Saturday, the Coasters recorded their first Mill Farm victory of the campaign just two days later in their first-ever live televised match.

James Hardy’s second-half header was enough to clinch a tense victory over Barrow in front of the BT Sport cameras which lifted Fylde into the top half of the table.

Dave Challinor named the same side for the third match running and his troops started brightly,with Hardy looking dangerous from the off, skipping past several challenges in the box before finally being thwarted before he could get a shot away.

Former Coasters man Dan Jones was presented with a glorious set-piece chance on the very edge of the Fylde box but sliced his powerful effort well wide of the left post.

Visiting striker Adi Yussuf looked to be offside when he was played through on the quarter-hour but the linesman’s flag stayed down and Rhys Taylor was forced into a decent save.

The hosts were starting to threaten going forward and Sam Finley fizzed a vicious drive inches over the top after being found on the 18-yard line by Lewis Montrose.

The chance of the half fell to Fylde and it was record goalscorer Danny Rowe who cut inside his man superbly before firing a rocket agonisingly wide of the far post.

Barrow had a wonderful opportunity of their own seconds later, when Bedsente Gomis let fly from range, and although Taylor spilled his fierce strike the stopper more than made up for it with fantastic follow-up save from Jordan White.

Midfielder Henry Jones plucked a loose ball out of the sky with a sensational touch as the half-time whistle approached but his attempt from 25 yards was watched over the bar by Barrow keeper Stuart Moore.

The Coasters were a whisker away from taking the lead on the stroke of half-time, when Hardy broke down the left and found Rowe, who in turn played in Jones. The Welshman’s strike was blocked and the follow-up from Jack Muldoon arrowed narrowly wide.

Rain descended on Mill Farm as the match restarted and was causing problems for both sides,

Ten minutes after the break and the Coasters broke the deadlock. Rowe twisted and turned before letting fly from a tight angle, and although his effort was saved by Moor, there was the lurking Hardy to gobble up the leftovers with a header from point-blank range.

The Bluebirds were struggling to break through a solid Fylde backline and a tame effort from Bradley Bauress was the solitary shot on target in the first 15 minutes of the second period.

Only a last ditch tackle from Moussa Diarra prevented the Coasters from doubling their lead. Rowe broke clean though down the left and his parried strike fell kindly to Muldoon on the six-yard line but Diarra threw himself in the way.

The home crowd were made to hold their breath moments later, when an almighty goalmouth scramble was eventually cleared from danger by Simon Grand.

Alex-Ray Harvey fired a first-time strike over the top as Barrow desperately searched for a way back into the game.

Barrow were resorting to launching long balls and set-pieces into the area, however BT Sport man of the match Taylor was controlling his area admirably.

There was a heart in mouth moment for the Coasters in the final minute of normal time, when Harvey lined up a free-kick 20 yards out but his effort soared over the bar.

Challinor regretted that the TV audience had not seen his Fylde side at their best but the manager wasn’t complaining after back-to-back wins.

The Coasters boss said: “It was not our best performance of the season but probably our best result. I couldn’t be happier to back up Saturday’s result with another win, a scrappy win.

“As a perfectionist I would like us to play a lot better but we showed an awful lot of resilience and character to dig in and grind out the result.

“We got that bit of luck that we haven’t had for the rest of the season and Rhys made some good saves at important times for us.

“I’ll always back my players to express themselves on the ball and we didn’t really do that in the first half, and Barrow dragged us down a little to their style of play

“At half time, I said I wanted us to get on the ball and enjoy watching us play, and we did improve.

“It was difficult because the game never really settled down. We will probably play a lot better this season and lose games, so the result was very important.”

DANIEL AGNEW

Fylde: Taylor, Bond, Tunnicliffe, Grand, Francis-Angol (Ezewele 61), Montrose, Finley, Jones (Smith 70), Hardy (Blinkhorn 85), Muldoon, Rowe; not used: Lynch, McCready

Barrow: Moore, Bartram, Jones, Diarra, Nieskins, Gomis, Harvey, Mahoma (Hughes 51), White (Panayiotou 82), Yussuf, Bauress (Harrison 66); not used: Ramsbottom, Cockerline.

Ref: Joseph Johnson; Att: 2,234