Clitheroe 2 AFC Fylde 1: Match report

Darren Stephenson scores for Fylde
Darren Stephenson scores for Fylde

A week after crashing out of the FA Trophy at Brackley, Fylde were knocked out of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy far closer to home.

A brace from striker Kurt Willoughby sealed a prized scalp for the Blues, who play in Evo-Stik First Division North, despite Darren Stephenson giving Fylde hope with his first goal for the club 25 minutes from time.

Fylde boss Dave Challinor kept his promise to make wholesale changes to his team, naming a completely different starting 11 to that which had won 5-1 at Gloucester City on Saturday.

The Fylde team included three debutants registered on the eve of the match in defenders Emilio Biyik and Liam Lambert and midfielder Joey Faux.

More experienced players in the starting line-up included Richie Baker, Dom Collins, Bohan Dixon and Matty Hughes.

The hosts wasted a superb chance to take the lead after just eight minutes.

Ryan Ellison’s goalbound shot was inadvertently cleared off the Fylde goal-line by Clitheroe midfielder Bradley Carroll.

However, Clitheroe did take a deserved lead after 12 minutes.

When the hosts won a free-kick 25 yards out, Willoughby stepped up to drill the ball under the Fylde wall and past the despairing dive of Tony Thompson.

Chances were at a premium in the first half for Fylde in east Lancashire, though they spurned a glorious opportunity to level the scores.

Stephenson found himself clean through but his shot was easily saved by Christian Paulat-Brigg.

As the half drew to a close, Clitheroe missed two big chances to take a two-goal lead into the interval.

Both fell to the head of Carroll. Firstly he was off-target from close range and then he headed straight at a relieved Thompson from inside the six-yard box.

Fylde started the stronger of the teams in the second half and another chance fell to Stephenson shortly after the break.

He stole possession off the Clitheroe defence on the edge of the box but his cross-shot across the area just evaded Serhat Tasdemir, who scored a hat-trick in Fylde’s 6-2 win over Darwen in last month’s previous round.

The decisive second goal came on the hour mark as Clitheroe made Fylde pay for a defensive error.

Half-time substitute Sam Mangan’s back-pass was intercepted by Willoughby, who calmly rounded Thompson to slot into an unguarded net.

Fylde refused to give up and found a way back into the contest just five minutes later.

Stephenson bore down on goal and was tripped by Clitheroe full-back Wesley Benjamin.

Stephenson dusted himself down and drilled the penalty straight down the middle of the goal.

Stephenson was inches from doubling his tally moment later, when he was found in the box by Dixon but his shot was deflected narrowly wide.

Hughes was denied from close range by Paulet-Brigg after meeting substitute Jordan Wynne’s cross with a well struck half-volley.

Fylde almost grabbed the leveller with less than five minutes to play, when Stephenson headed Dixon’s deep cross back across goal but the ball was taken off the toe of Hughes on the six-yard line by Ryan Ellison.

With the last kick of the game, Fylde missed a gilt-edged chance to take the tie to penalties. A long ball bounced around the penalty area and found Hughes six yards out, but he sent his effort over the bar with the goal gaping.

AFC Fylde: Thompson, Walsh (Mangan 45), Collins, Biyik (Loftus 72), Lambert, Baker, Tasdemir (Wynne 59), Faux, Dixon, M. Hughes, Stephenson.

Clitheroe: Paulet-Brigg, Benjamin, Bromley (Roberts 21), Ellison, Brady, Russell, Mitchell, Carroll, Willoughby, Newby (Tserpes 62), Tuanzebe.