AFC Fylde 1 Witton Albion 2
A wonder-strike five minutes before half-time condemned Fylde to only their second defeat in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier, ending their 10-match unbeaten run.
A run of six straight wins came to an end thanks to Daniel Andrews’ opener and Rory Fallon’s thunderous strike from 30 yards which clipped the underside of the crossbar, Michael Barnes having equalised for Fylde by scoring for a seventh consecutive game.
Albion came out of the blocks flying but it was Fylde who created the first chance, when James Dean shot ove from Barnes’ cross two minutes in.
Last season’s Evo-Stik Division One North Player of the Season and top goalscorer Shaun Tuck then made a good run for the visitors, rounding two defenders and forcing Ben Hinchliffe into a save, and then Fallon and Matthew Cross wasted chances to give Albion the lead.
A shot from Jack Dorney on 23 minutes was blocked by Witton’s Paul Booth but it was Albion who continued to cause the more problems. Andrews laid a great ball off to Joshua Hancock a minute later and his shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner.
Albion took the lead on 29 minutes, when a needless free-kick was given away on the right and Cross’ fired a low ball in which struck Andrews on the shoulder but beat the stretching Hinchliffe.
The home side were level eight minutes later, when a high corner from Booth was scrambled in from close range by Barnes. But three minutes later, the Fylde defence sat back and allowed Fallon to move forward and unleash his screamer which Hinchliffe had no chance of reaching, giving the visitors the lead once again.
Fylde came out for the second period searching for another equaliser and Richie Allen forced a save from keeper Matthew Cooper on 57 minutes, substitute striker Adam Farrell firing a free header wide two minutes later.
Joe Booth shot straight at the keeper and Farrell squandered an even better chance with 15 minutes to go, heading Adam Sumner’s perfect cross just over from 10 yards.
Fylde were having all of the possession but couldn’t find a way through a strong defence as Barnes had a shot blocked and Dorney blasted well wide.
Allen had the final attempt four minutes into stoppage time. He shot just wide but a flag had already been raised for offside.
Disappointed manager Dave Challinor said: “I was critical of our lot first half – I don’t think we worked hard enough. I thought we were sloppy and lazy.
“In the second half we’ve had the ball but the biggest criticism is that no-one took the game by the scruff of the neck.
“Too many players were happy to pass square or backwards. Nobody took the game on with any authority and wanted to say, ‘Give me the ball and I’ll win us the game.’
“When the opportunities come you have to stick them away, Farrell’s two chances and Dean’s were prime examples of that, but they’ve been told in no uncertain terms performances like that won’t be tolerated.”
Fylde have slipped a place to ninth in the table and Challinor will be looking for a much-improved performance in Saturday’s eagerly anticipated home match against an FC United side who are immediately below them.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Hughes (Jarvis 86), Taylor, B. Barnes (C), Booth (McCarthy 71), Dorney, Dean (Farrell 55), M. Barnes, Allen; not used: Winter, Steel.