AFC Fylde 3, Lowestoft 1
AFC Fylde’s outstanding festive season form continued in style when they dispatched mid-table Lowestoft Town 3-1 at Kellamergh Park.
Danny Rowe and Richie Allen gave Fylde a 2-0 lead early in the game before Josh Langley added the third midway through the second half.
Substitute Jacek Zielonka came on to score a consolation for the visitors which made for an interesting final 10 minutes but The Coasters held out for the win,
Dave Challinor made a number of changes to his squad with Bradley Barnes returning as captain following his absence on New Year’s Day through illness.
That meant Caspar Hughes returned to his full-back role, Luke Denson was on the bench alongside Josh Wilson who returned after missing both Barrow games with injury.
It could have been very differet early on as the visitors should have took the lead after just 35 seconds.
Jake Reed pounced on to a poor back-pass to find himself one-on-one with Ben Hinchliffe but the Fylde keeper pulled off a routine stop to deny the Lowestoft striker.
Allen and Rowe were both denied by Lowestoft stopper Ashlee Jones just metres from the goal-line six minutes later but it was soon 1-0 when Rowe’s header from Lloyd’s corner gained a kind deflection to beat Jones.
And seconds later Allen had doubled the home side’s lead with a superb strike into the roof of the visitor’s net from a tight angle.
On 22 minutes Danny Lloyd thought he had scored a third but his strike was chalked off for offside after Joe Booth’s initial header was well saved by Jones.
Reed was denied again by Hinchliffe on 26 minutes and minutes later he hit the post with a clear header that he should have done better with.
The Coasters ended the half on top and should have scored again but Allen shot wide twice before Booth’s long-range effort was deflected wide in stoppage time.
It was another bright start to the second period from Fylde as they went in search of an even more comfortable lead.
Both Rowe and Allen failed to find the target with their shots and Lloyd was unlucky not to get more on Rowe’s low cross from the right and sent the ball wide.
But on 68 minutes Fylde had the cushion of a third goal when a well-worked free kick was played to Adam Sumner,
He crossed to Lloyd inside the area who played it through to Langley who was able to power his strike into the bottom corner.
Matt Blinkhorn returned to action on home soil immediately after Fylde’s third goal, making only his second appearance this season after being out with a back injury for most of the season.
Lowestoft also made a couple of substitutions late on and it changed their play as both Joe Marsden and Zielonka cause a few problems at the back.
And it was Zielonka who raced onto Marsden’s through-ball to pull the score back to 3-1, firingbetween Hinchliffe’s legs with ten minutes to go with almost his first touch to set up what could have been a nervy final ten minutes.
The game ended with Lowestoft pressing but creating little.
Thanks to other results going their way this win sees Fylde stretch their lead at the top of the Vanarama Conference North to five points with a game in hand.
However, Fylde’s next outing is on Saturday – an FA Trophy Second Round tie at home to AFC Telford United who sit bottom of the Conference Premier and boast two former Coasters in Adam Farrell and Sean Cooke.