Old Albanians 32 Fylde 17: Match report and reaction
Fylde gave their best away performance of the season so far but it could not prevent them slipping to 12th in National One after this third successive defeat.
Having lost all their previous five away matches this season, the Fylde coaches altered the warm-up preparations, stressing intensity and accuracy, in a bid to reverse their form and fortunes away from the Woodlands.
Unfortunately for the Lancastrians, the St Albans club fielded their strongest side of the season and exploited Fylde mistakes with devastating effect.
Fylde had several stand-out players but the visitors paid for errors at crucial times.
Fylde have tended to start slowly on the road and find themselves 12 or more points behind in the first quarter.
That wasn’t the case at the Woollams, where fly-half Greg Smith gave them the lead with a penalty after 10 minutes.
OA equalised five minutes later with a Ben Palmer penalty and took the lead when flanker Henry Bate forced his way over the line in the left corner in the 24th minute.
Accomplished goalkicker and fly-half Ben Palmer was unable to convert the try but kicked a penalty to stretch the lead to 11-3 after half an hour.
A crucial score by OA in the run-up to half-time started to take the game away from the visitors.
From a Fylde mistake, lock Sam Lunnon pounced on the loose ball and made a powerful break before feeding wing Nick Foster, who scored in the corner.
Palmer converted beautifully from the touchline and his side took an 18-3 lead into the changing rooms.
OA continued to press early in the second half but the doughty Fylde defence held out. The visitors also attacked dangerously but sloppy handling let them down.
Albanian extended their lead in the 48th minute, when dangerous full-back Max Mallin accelerated through a gap and scored down the left. Palmer again converted.
OA had the bit between their teeth and lock Lunnon was driven over for a close quarter try in the 61st minute to secure the bonus point. Palmer converted and his side looked out of sight at 32-3.
Fylde heads didn’t drop, however, and they upped their efforts. Anthony Bingham raced over for a good try in the 67th minute and this was converted by Greg Smith.
Then prop Jake Pope drove over powerfully for his debut try in the 73rd minute. Again Smith added the extras to reduce the deficit to 32-17.
But there were no late dramatics and the Lancastrians had to make the long journey home with no reward other than a generally improved away performance and some excellent individual displays.
Head coach Paul Arnold singled out forwards Ben Vernon, Adam Lewis and debutants Pope and Matt Rogerson for particular praise after Fylde’s defeat at Old Albanians but was again left to rue costly errors.
Arnold said: “This was very frustrating, once again. We did a lot of good things but undermined these by simple mistakes. Credit to Albanian, they exploited these with relish.
“I can’t criticise the effort and commitment of the players at all but small inaccuracies – spilling the ball in contact, not looking after it at rucks – gave our opponents the platform to attack and score.
“We have to work at certain areas in training this week and prepare for the visit of Darlington Mowden Park on Saturday at the Woodlands.”
Fylde now drop into a bottom five made up entirely of northern clubs – a gloomy situation for five clubs who will all be scrapping for their lives in the coming weeks.
Fylde team: Dorrington, Armstrong, Briers, Wilkinson, Bingham, Smith, Nicholls; Pope, Burtonwood, Lewis, Turley, Gray, Rogerson, Vernon, Fairbrother; Replacements: Wild, Gregory, Lamprey, Hughes, Dowds.