AFC Fylde 1, Lancaster City 0
Fylde soared up to second in the Evo-Stik Division One North table – just three points behind leaders Curzon Ashton – after recording their fifth successive Evo-Stik First Division North win in this holiday Monday nailbiter.
Bradley Barnes struck the only goal with ten minutes remaining, capitalising on a defensive error to fire past goalkeeper Martin Fearon to the delight of the majority of the 414 strong crowd inside Kellamergh Park.
The win shows the manager of the month award is not always the jinx it often appears to be after Fylde’s Dave Challinor gained the division’s December honour.
The Dolly Blues, featuring three ex-Fylde players in their squad in Ryan Elderton, Lee Dodgson and Dave Swarbrick, started the brighter and had ive chances to take the lead in the first quarter of an hour.
First Joe Bunny saw his shot deflected wide for a corner before captain Neil Marshall headed another corner wide on six minutes.
Three minutes later, Rob Henry sent a searching ball into the box from wide on the right and Marshall’s header was saved comfortably by Zac Jones.
With 12 minutes gone, Jones produced a fine save to deny Bunny, who scuffed his shot after being fed by Dodgson, and two minutes later, Jones could only punch the ball high into the air as he cleared off his line under intense pressure from the Lancaster strikers.
Just before the half-hour mark, Bunny sent another chance well over the bar and Fylde’s Adam Sumner cleared an Alex Kenyen header off the line from yet another corner for the visitors.
On 30 minutes, Joe Booth could only fire over the bar for the Coasters, and four minutes later Glenn Steel connected with an Andy Fowler cross but Fearon saved comfortably.
Fylde’s best chances of the half came after 37 minutes but keeper Fearon was in inspired form. After some great build-up play, another cross from Fowler was met by Michael Barnes, whose header was beautifully saved by the keeper.
Then, four minutes before the break, Sumner tested the keeper from a free-kick but Fearon again pulled off a good save diving low to his left to grab hold of the ball.
The second half began with Fylde pressing for an opener. Two minutes in, Booth was unlucky when his backheel was deflected just wide for a corner after being fed by Ritchie Allen, who was making his 100th appearance in a Fylde shirt.
Further opportunities fell for Fowler, Steel and Bradley Barnes before Lancaster started to penetrate the home defence with chances for Bunny and Kenyen on 65 and 73 minutes.
However, the breakthrough came on 80 minutes, when Keigan Parker ran into the visitors’ box and saw his blocked shot fall to the feet of Bradley Barnes, who duly fired past the oncoming Fearon.
Substitute striker Dave Swarbrick couldn’t find an equaliser when Jones saved his shot late on, and even though four minutes of injury time was indicated neither side could change the scoreline.
Challinor was full of praise for his side’s second-half performance, saying: “Credit to Lancaster – in the first half they were livelier and had more desire than us, but after a word at half-time the lads were brilliant. We played in the right areas and we moved the ball around, and in the end we get a chance and Brad sticks the ball away.”
Fylde now move on to a tricky away tie against Radcliffe Borough on Saturday.
AFC Fylde: Jones, Heywood, Sumner, Doughty, Steel (C), B. Barnes, Booth, Kay (Mercer 87), Fowler (Parker 77), M. Barnes (Jarvis 88), Allen; not used: McDonald, Nightingale.