Bradford PA 1 AFC Fylde 4: Match report and reaction

Danny Rowe scores for Fylde Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Danny Rowe scores for Fylde Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

The Coasters maintained their unbeaten start as the league’s top scorer moved into double figures and Steve Williams scored Fylde’s other goal with a deft flick.

Dave Challinor made just one change to the side that won Saturday’s top of the table clash against FC Halifax Town, with Matty Hughes coming in for the injured Sam Finley.

Only the woodwork prevented Bradford winger Ben McKenna from opening the scoring early on as he lifted a delicate cross into the box from the right that landed on the crossbar and bounced behind to safety.

James Hardy hit back with a chance for the visitors, drilling a low strike narrowly wide of the left-hand post from 20 yards.

The play swung straight back in the other direction and striker Chris Sharp was close with a half volley from the angle that could only find the side-netting.

Hardy was looking a threat early on and was again just off target when he cut inside from the left and fired over the bar.

After a lull in play, the visitors took the lead shortly after the half-hour mark. Bohan Dixon nicked in down the left, raced down to the byline and crossed for Rowe to tap home from six yards.

The frontman continued his fine form in front of goal and doubled the Coasters’ lead on the stroke of half-time.

The 28-year-old was brought down 25 yards out and dusted himself off to curl a free-kick into the bottom left hand corner.

However just seconds later Bradford were back in the game. McKenna delivered an inviting ball across goal and Sharp had the simple task of tapping home from point blank range at the far post.

Rowe was close to bagging a second hat-trick of the season after the restart but debutant goalkeeper Joe Cracknall got down well to his low left-footed strike.

Fylde did however stretch their advantage a minute later when Caspar Hughes chipped the ball into the box from 30 yards and Steve Williams flicked the ball over Cracknall at the first time of asking.

The Coasters had a firm grip on the game and could have gone further ahead just before the hour mark when Dixon slipped two markers before firing straight at the goalkeeper. Full-back Kennedy went closer still when his looping cross evaded everyone and crashed back off the bar.

Hardy should have put the match to bed when he was played in by Dixon but he cut back on to his right gave the keeper a chance to adjust and save his eventual strike.

The Coasters were out of sight with 15 minutes to play and it was another for star striker Rowe.

The hitman beat his man on the edge of the box and slotted into the bottom right hand corner to seal his hat-trick.

The fifth goal looked to be coming and some fantastic play from Hardy almost brought it about, turning two markers before playing in Matt Blinkhorn, but no one could get on the end of the striker’s cross.

Bradford thought that had a late consolation in the dying seconds when McKenna turned home Liam Dickinson’s cross but the attacker was deemed offside.

Blinkhorn was close to adding his name to the scoresheet seconds before the final whistle but his long-range curling effort was just wide.

Tough taskmaster Dave Challinor wasn’t entirely satisfield by his AFC Fylde side’s display in Bradford.

The Coasters boss said: “I wasn’t overly happy with how we started the game because I wanted us to play high up the pitch from the off.

“We got ourselves two goals ahead and the game is dead but we switched off and let them back in, so from a position of the game being over at half-time they are suddenly back in it.

“It was important we started the second half well. Thankfully we did that and got a slightly fortuitous third goal.

“The fourth goal has killed it and we just had to see the game out, which we did very professionally. The result was more than justified. The only slight disappointment is that we have conceded a poor goal again but that’s just me being super-critical because we played well overall.

But Challinor is well aware of the positives, adding: “We have a lot of goals in the side. Rowey has got 30 goals for two seasons running now and he has started this season really well, and I think there is still more to come from him.

“It’s been a great weekend for us – to take six points from the two games is massive.

“In that time we have got our first win at Mill Farm and kept our unbeaten run going, so long may that continue.

“We will have a couple of days off now after a very busy weekend and make sure we are ready for games on Saturday and Tuesday.”

DANIEL AGNEW

AFC Fylde: Thompson, Holmes, Langley (Collins 69), Williams, Kennedy, C. Hughes, Bond, Dixon (Baker 75), Hardy, M. Hughes, Rowe (Blinkhorn 80); not used: Finley, Newell.

Bradford PA: Cracknell, Toulson (Boshell 61), McWilliams, Dean, Coates, Kearns, McKenna, Wroe (Monaghan 71), Sharp, Payne, Davie; Not used: Osborne, Ryan.