AFC Fylde 1 - Blyth Spartans 0

AFC Fylde's  Michael Barnes
AFC Fylde's Michael Barnes
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A sublime strike from Michael Barnes, his 20th goal of the season, secured three vital points at Kellamergh Park.

Dave Challinor’s side bounced back from Saturday’s defeat at Rushall, who they leapfrogged last night to reclaim the final spot in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier play-off zone.

It looked like being another frustrating match for Fylde as they were restricted to long-range shots until Barnes found time and space on the edge of the box to deny Spartans keeper Conor Grant a well-earned clean sheet.

A dominant first-half display by the Coasters began slowly as the visitors were desperate not to repeat last month’s meeting in the North East, where Fylde were 4-0 up within 30 minutes.

Barnes swung a low cross in which cannoned off a defender for the first corner after four minutes.

Four minutes later, a long kick from Fylde keeper Ben Hinchliffe was expertly brought down by Sean Cooke and his first-time cross towards Barnes at the back post was almost knocked past his own keeper by Jordan Mellish.

Grant produced arguably the save of the season on 18 minutes as he tipped Cooke’s superb 20-yard strike inches round the post at full stretch.

Two minutes later and Grant was there again, this time denying Barnes with a point-blank save.

After a frustrating period with no end product, the breakthrough finally came 10 minutes before the interval.

Barnes collected Harry Winter’s pass on the edge of the box, his first touch giving him ample space to fire a fearsome shot pas Grant. Three minutes into the second period, the visitors won a free-kick on the edge of Fylde’s box after a foul by Paul Scott but the wall did its job.

Matty Hughes surged forward from the back on the hour and played a good ball through to Cooke, but he shot inches wide from 18 yards. Blyth went straight up the other end, where Lee Mason blasted over from an extremely tight angle.

Cooke made another surging run down the middle, beating one defender and shooting against the arms of another but the referee ignored any shouts for a penalty.

With 12 minutes remaining, Bradley Barnes fired a trademark effort from 25 yards but again Grant was equal to it, as he was to Jack Dorney’s effort, palmed round the post four minutes later.

Sumner couldn’t beat the outstanding Grant either, seeing two strikes comfortably caught on the line. Challinor was pleased with the win as Fylde gear up for six matches in the final fortnight.

He said: “I thought we played well in the first half and dominated play, but our movement and passing let us down a bit, and the pitch was still a little bumpy. I thought we started a little sloppily in the second half and that sort of dictated the rest of the half.

“I’m delighted we’ve won because it felt like one of those games where you’re waiting for them to get a break and equalise before we step on it again.”

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Hughes, Scott, B. Barnes, Dorney, Winter, Farrell (Dean 72), M. Barnes, Cooke; not used: Booth, Taylor, McCarthy, Denson.