AFC Fylde 5 Boston United 2: Full report and reaction

Matty Hughes celebrates his opener
Matty Hughes celebrates his opener
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AFC Fylde moved back into the National League North play-off zone with this sensational victory over their promotion rivals.

Matty Hughes headed home the opener before Dayle Southwell equalised with a fantastic free-kick.

James Hardy restored Fylde’s lead on the stroke of half-time and Josh Langley extended the advantage shortly after the break.

Boston looked to make it a nervy end when Mark Jones headed home but Richie Baker restored the two-goal lead.

The Pilgrims were reduced to 10 men when Cameron Johnson was dismissed for a two-footed challenge on Hughes and Dion Charles compounded the visitors’ misery when he curled home in added time.

Coasters boss Dave Challinor made two changes to the side that drew at Nuneaton last Tuesday.

Adam Sumner came in at left-back as Stephen Crainey moved inside to replace Tom Hannigan, while Hardy earned a rare start in place of Danny Lloyd.

Fylde had the first big chance of the game as midfielder Bohan Dixon, making his home debut, pulled the ball back for Matty Hughes, who took a touch but couldn’t beat keeper Fabian Spiess.

The first goal came on five minutes as Richie Baker stole the ball from Joe Burgess and crossed for an unmarked Hughes to head home from 10 yards.

Boston equalised five minutes later as the league’s top scorer Southwell curled a stunning free-kick into the top left corner from 25 yards.

The visitors almost went ahead when a free-kick into the penalty area fell kindly at the back post for Zak Mills but he couldn’t connect cleanly and the ball ended up in the grateful arms of Fylde keeper Matt Urwin.

Fylde had a great chance to retake the lead when Hughes cut in from the right and squared the ball to Dixon but his low shot was parried by Spiess and eventually cleared for a corner.

Southwell nearly grabbed his second with a delicate lob over Urwin from 20 yards but the ball landed just over the bar. The in-form frontman seemed to injure himself in the process and was replaced by Mark Jones.

Danny Rowe almost gave the Coasters the lead, twisting and turning his way past two defenders before bending a shot just wide of the right post from the edge of the box.

A lovely move involving Caspar Hughes, Dixon and Matty Hughes saw the latter dummy the ball for Rowe to bend a shot over the bar from the left. Boston responded with Jones’ inswinging cross narrowly missing two Pilgrims forwards.

Fylde regained the lead just before half-time, when Josh Langley burst through the middle unchallenged and fed Hardy on the right.

The youngster took advantage of a defender’s slip to place the ball into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box.

Jay Rollins had the first good chance of the second half for the visitors, when he lashed a shot from the edge of the box and Urwin tipped the ball over the bar for a corner.

Fylde nearly made it three when Hardy jinked his way into the box and played the ball to Rowe but his shot from close range was saved by Spiess. Hughes then missed a great chance to make it three, bending a shot well wide from inside the box.

Rowe was next to go close with a low shot from the left, which was tipped around the post by Speiss.

Carl Piergianni almost put the ball into his own net, when he deflected Caspar Hughes’ cross just wide of goal, then Rowe was denied yet again from a corner. However, Langley was on hand to convert the rebound from six yards following a goalmouth scrap on 61 minutes.

Rollins had a chance for the visitors when he turned Hughes but his curled effort bounced into the arms of Urwin. Jones gave Boston a lifeline with around 22 minutes to go, when his header looped into the top right corner, beating Urwin at full stretch.

Fylde restored their two-goal lead within a minute as Dixon’s clever backheel teed up Richie Baker to smash the ball into the bottom left corner.

It got worse for Boston when Johnson was dismissed within two minutes of coming on for his heavy challenge of Hughes.

Boston had a golden opportunity when Urwin misjudged the flight of a cross from the right and Jones nearly capitalised at the back post, but his first touch was heavy and the ball passed wide of the left post.

Substitute Charles almost got in on the act for Fylde, playing a great one-two with Rowe before poking a shot just wide of the left post. Charles was put through once again but Spiess denied him with a double save.

However, the winger was not to be denied and confirmed victory in stoppage time when he bent in a terrific fifth goal from 20 yards.

Having taken just one point from their previous three league games, this return to winning ways was much-needed, and the Coasters will climb at least one more place to third with a home victory over bottom club Corby tomorrow (7.45pm).

Manager Dave Challinor was delighted with Fylde’s return to winning ways and particularly with scorer James Hardy.

The Fyle boss said: “That was much more like our old selves. We scored five and could have comfortably scored another five.

“We attacked them really well and played at a high tempo. Boston are a tough team to play against and are at the right end of the table for a reason, so to win so convincingly was very pleasing from my point of view.

“We are an offensive, free-flowing, forward-thinking team and we had drifted away from that a bit recently, but we played with more freedom and got our reward for that.”

And Challinor feels Hardy’s goal will help hisdevelopment.

He added: “James is a fantastic footballer and he was very good today.

“He is slightly under-developed physically for this league, so we have had to be careful with him and he has had to be patient.

“Technically he’s one of the best players we have, and if you watched us train he would probably be the one who stood out.

“I’m made up for him and his future looks very bright. If he keeps learning and developing, then he will be a very good player and I think he is at the right place to do that.

“If the lads play well they will keep their place in the side and they’ve done that.

“We now have to make sure we back that up with another win on Tuesday night.”


AFC Fylde: Urwin, C.Hughes, Sumner, Langley, Crainey, Barnes, Baker, Dixon (Blinkhorn 85), M.Hughes (Lloyd 77), Hardy (Charles 75), Rowe

Boston United: Speiss, Marrs, Garner, Piergianni, McEvoy, Burgess, Roberts, Rollins, Southwell (Jones 37), Hilliard (Johnson 69)