A Barnes stormer

Pictures Martin Bostock'AFC Fylde v Harrogate Railway FC.'AFC Fylde's Mike Barnes looks for a way through the Harrogate defence.
Pictures Martin Bostock'AFC Fylde v Harrogate Railway FC.'AFC Fylde's Mike Barnes looks for a way through the Harrogate defence.
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AFC Fylde 7, Harrogate Railway Athletic 0

Michael Barnes scored a hat-trick and assisted in three others as Fylde went top of the Evo-Stik Division One North.

AFC Fylde 7, Harrogate Railway Athletic 0

Michael Barnes scored a hat-trick and assisted in three others as Fylde went top of the Evo-Stik Division One North.

It’s a super achievement by a Fylde side that was 16 points off the pace shortly after manager Dave Challinor’s arrival in early November.

Yet they took full advantage of previous leaders Curzon being among the teams frozen off at the weekend to take top spot on goal difference.

Fylde made light of the absence of top scorer Ritchie Allen, who rejoined Fleetwood on Thursday, as Michael Barnes’ goals were supplemented by a Joe Booth double, and strikes by Keigan Parker and Bradley Barnes.

After five minutes, Booth found defender Glenn Steel, of all people, furthest forward, but he couldn’t quite get his shot off, though the ball rebound felled to Michael Barnes, whose effort was cleared off the line.

Five minutes later, Michael Barnes forced a great save from keeper Craig Parry.

The first goal came on 21 minutes, an excellent Booth header from a Michael Barnes cross, and Parker doubled the home side’s lead 15 minutes later from close range.

Paul Jarvis should have made it three in first-half stoppage time, but saw his attempt go inches wide when one-on-one with Parry.

Two minutes into the second half, Michael Barnes scored with a beauty of a shot that found the top corner off the underside of the bar.

The rapturous supporters knew the three-goal cushion was enough to send Fylde top, but it was to get better as Bradley Barnes made it 4-0 on 53 minutes.

When Michael Barnes’ shot was brilliantly saved by Parry, his namesake Bradley pounced on the rebound and fired past the keeper from 12 yards.

Five minutes after, Bradley Barnes missed the chance to make it five when he sent his shot the wrong side of the post, and he went close again on the hour but Booth’s dangerous free-kick was just too high.

The Barneses linked up again for No.5 on 70 minutes, as Michael took Bradley’s excellent pass down the left and beat his marker with ease before squaring the ball for Booth to fire in from close range.

Two minutes later, Michael Barnes scored his second, a close-range header from Ben Waddington’s outstanding cross.

With 11 minutes left, Michael Barnes completed his hat-trick and Fylde’s rout.

The visitors never gave up hope of a consolation and went closest three minutes into stoppage time, when Glen Wood’s free-kick from the edge of the box sailed narrowly wide.

A delighted Challinor said: “It was a great opportunity for us, with Curzon’s game against Warrington getting called off, and thankfully we’ve taken it.

“Our performance in the first-half paved the way for our performance in the second.

“We’ve possibly proved a few people wrong, and to score seven in any game is fantastic.

“For good measure, and the clean sheet has put us in a great position.”

Fylde: Jones, Heywood (Mercer 40), Sumner (Nightingale 57), Doughty, Steel, B. Barnes, Booth, Kay, Parker, M. Barnes, Jarvis (Waddington 70); not used: Fowler, McDonald.

CHRIS PARK