AFC Fylde recorded an eighth win in nine games on Saturday at struggling Grantham to climb to seventh in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier.
Adam Farrell squeezed his effort between the keeper and the post to give the Coasters the lead mid-way through the first half, and although the home side equalised five minutes after the break, Bradley Barnes nodded in Joe Booth’s cross to move Fylde within two points of the play-off zone.
The Coasters started in their customary fast-paced way with Mike Barnes and Sean Cooke making good runs down the wings, and within two minutes Barnes’ shot was sent for an early corner.
On six minutes, Cooke won another corner when he burst into the box and his effort was deflected narrowly wide.
Barnes saw another chance tipped wide on 10 minutes and Matty Hughes came close from the resulting corner, heading just over, then Farrell’s first shot was straight at Jake Turner from a direct free-kick on the edge of Grantham’s box.
A rare foray into Fylde’s half was expertly dealt with by the experienced defence and within minutes Fylde had a deserved lead through Farrell.
Cooke won the ball in a midfield battle 30 yards out, fed Farrell and he beat Turner from a tight angle to open the scoring.
Grantham started pushing men forward, but after Fylde keeper Ben Hinchliffe was fouled inside his own box Jamie McGhee and Smith were caught offside to end the home side’s next attack – Smith was facing Fylde for a third time in as many weeks after joining Grantham from Eastwood Town last week.
Barnes then made another surging run towards the Grantham area and sent his shot inches wide of the mark on 30 minutes.
The game then petered out till half-time, which arrived with Fylde 1-0 up, but within minutes of the restart the home side levelled the tie and had chances to take the lead themselves.
A long throw from Adie Hawes found Greg Smith free at the back post to head in from close range.
Within seconds, McGhee forced a good save from Hinchliffe to keep the score at 1-1.
On 62 minutes, Rhys Lewis came even closer to snatching the lead for the hosts when he was the last person to touch the ball as it flew over Fylde’s bar from four yards out.
Thankfully for the visitors, their lead was restored three minutes later, Bradley Barnes scoring a rare goal after some excellent play from Jack Dorney to keep the ball on the right touchline. He passed back to Booth, who swung the ball in toward the back post where Barnes was waiting.
Minutes later, the home fans thought their team had equalised a second time when Jordan Smith’s two-yard effort was cleared off the line by Adam Sumner but it wouldn’t have counted as Fylde were awarded a free-kick for a foul on Steve Haslam in the build-up.
Hawes and Jordan Smith then saw their efforts go high and wide before Fylde missed two great opportunities to put the game to bed nine minutes from time.
Farrell flicked on Mike Barnes’ cross towards goal but it was cleared off the line by Sam Purcicoe, and within seconds James Dean missed the goal by the narrowest of margins with a header.
A good break from Harry Winter in the 83rd minute saw him play in Barnes, who played a wonderful through-ball for Dean whose first-time shot was again the wrong side of the post.
Thankfully for manager Dave Challinor, Fylde side held out for the three points, and despite the poor quality of the game he was delighted with the outcome.
Challinor said: “It was a massive result for us as it was a difficult place to come in difficult conditions and a horrible wind. But it was a massive performance, especially in the second half.
“We were playing against the wind in the first half, so the game was always going to be one of two halves. But we kept them to very few chances and scored a goal ourselves. We could have had at least another one without causing them too many problems but they defended well.
“We conceded a sloppy goal but we’ve shown a massive amount of resolution and commitment, and we stuck it out at the end.”
Fylde mace a difficult midweek trip to Whitby Town on Wednesday, when victory could lift them into the top five.
Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Hughes, Taylor, B. Barnes (C), Dorney (Scott 66), Booth (Dean 73), Farrell, M. Barnes, Cooke (Winter 78); Subs not used: McCarthy, Dunn.