AFC Fylde owner David Haythornthwaite hails unlucky captain Neill Byrne

Chairman David Haythornthwaite enjoys Fylde's Wembley triumph with manager Dave Challinor
Chairman David Haythornthwaite enjoys Fylde's Wembley triumph with manager Dave Challinor
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AFC Fylde owner David Haythornthwaite has paid tribute to the club’s captain Neill Byrne for overcoming his recent disappointment.

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The centre-back was said to be at fault for one of the three goals Fylde conceded in their play-off final defeat to Salford City earlier this month.

Then, in Fylde’s FA Trophy success against Leyton Orient at the weekend, Byrne was withdrawn from the action after just 12 minutes following a clash of heads.

However, the 26-year-old recovered sufficiently to climb those famous Wembley steps to lift the trophy alongside his teammates.

“Everybody forgets we lost our captain after just 10 minutes when we’re playing against a side that put it in the air,” Haythornwaite said.

“But I thought the lads that came on did a great job for us and that’s a tribute to the manager really, the fact we could do that.

“I was worried for Neill a little bit. Last week, of all the players, he was the most distraught of the lot because he got done on the corner.

“That changed the game because it made it 2-0 and it was his man to mark, so he was devastated.

“When he came off on Sunday I was a bit worried but he was alright and it’s all forgotten about now.

“But it is important to remember we lost a key player so early and still won; it’s great.”

The Coasters overcame their play-off disappointment to end the season with a piece of silverware courtesy of Danny Rowe’s second-half free-kick.

Dave Challinor’s men had to survive a second-half onslaught from Orient, who were looking to complete a league and cup double ahead of their return to League Two next season.

They held on to create another piece of history for the club, becoming the first non-league outfit to claim both the FA Vase and FA Trophy.

“We probably had as many clear chances as each other,” Haythornwaite added. “Theirs happened to hit the post, while one of ours went in and sometimes that happens.

“But Rowey scores the free-kick and that’s what he’s good at, he’s a free-kick specialist.

“If you were here last week I think he had at least two chances from a similar position and on both occasions it went into the wall.

“That’s football, but on this occasion he had one chance and he put it in and it was top corner wasn’t it? That’s what he’s good at.

“I thought we were the better side. Last week we had no complaints because Salford were the better side.

“I’ve just been in the changing room with the lads and they’re all happy because they’ve worked hard for this.

“I think coming to Wembley last week helped them because it just settles the nerves a little bit for this game and they got more used to it.

“They were determined to put what they saw as a wrong right and all those things added up for us.”

Haythornwaite also reserved special praise for the club’s fanbase, with more than 4,000 fans making the trip down to the capital.

In total 32 coaches were put on by the club, as Fylde returned to Wembley for the second time in just eight days after receiving criticism for their perceived low support in the play-off final.

“It’s two trips in a week,” the club’s owner said. “For any fans to come all that way and to spend that money is great.

“In my position we might forget it is still a working class game and those guys work hard just to come to Wembley once. But the fans were great. Most of them will have booked way before we even got to the play-offs.

“They enjoyed it and they’ve gone home with a smile on their faces, which is the main thing.”