Ref right to abandon Fylde match after 12 minutes, says boss

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Manager Dave Challinor backed the referee’s decision to abandon AFC Fylde’s match at Stalybridge Celtic after only 12 minutes.

Areas of the pitch had become unplayable in the relentless rain and the Vanarama National North game was called off while still goalless.

Fylde boss Challinor said: “It’s obviously frustrating but the right decision was made. It was still battering down after they called it off and it was probably dubious whether the match would start in the first place.

“When we arrived at 1pm the pitch was fine, but it has rained constantly since and was due to all day.

“The ref wanted to give it every chance, but as soon as the ball began to stop and not roll properly he had to make a decision.

“It’s not ideal for us but we will have to look to rearrange it and come back again soon.”

Fylde had been looking forward to making amends for their midweek defeat at Lowestoft and Challinor had made two changes to the side beaten 3-1 in Suffolk.

Josh Langley was recalled at the back after his three-match suspension, replacing Dom Collins, while Dion Charles came in for Matty Hughes on the wing.

Fylde had the ball in the back of the net from their first attack, Sam Finley latching on to Danny Rowe’s pass to slide the ball past the keeper, but a the linesman’s flag was raised.

Stalybridge went agonisingly close to opening the scoring after eight minutes, when Fylde failed to deal with a corner from the right and Adam Farrell smashed a shot against the near post.

This proved the last action of note. The ball had not been running freely on the difficult pitch from the start and the ref’s hand was quickly forced.

Challinor added: “You always have to be careful of the safety of the players. The ball was stopping in the water, which resulted in tackles becoming 50-50s and that’s when it becomes dangerous.

“A couple of times we were through on goal and the ball got caught up in a puddle.

“There was a situation where their goalkeeper ended up 40 yards away from his goal committing a foul, which doesn’t happen in normal circumstances.

“The ref has to be sensible and there was no way the game could have finished. It would have only got worse.”

It leaves Fylde with one or two games in hand on all their promotion rivals and Challinor added: “It makes a very busy month for us now. We will have to see when we can fit it in. The one positive is that it’s not too far to come back again.

“It’s more frustrating because it gave us a chance to right any wrongs from last week at Lowestoft Town, but I suppose now it gives us an added break and a full week to prepare for Alferton Town on Saturday.

Fylde now find themselves 10 points off the pace, though, after handsome wins for leaders Solihull Moors (6-1 at Gainsborough) and second-placed Harrogate (5-0 over FC United of Manchester).

At least the Coasters retained fourth place becuase Nuneaton could manage no better than a draw at home to Worcester City.


AFC Fylde team: Urwin, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, Crainey, Baker, Barnes, Finley, Charles, Lloyd, Rowe; subs: Hinchliffe, Collins, Hardy, M. Hughes, Blinkhorn

Stalybridge: McMillan, Wylie, Wisdom, Hughes, Higgins, Wright, Dixon, Mudimu, Farrell, Tames, Chalmers; subs: Crowley, Shaw, Chippendale, Burns, Simm.