AFC Fylde are searching for a new manager today after the shock departure of Kelham O’Hanlon.
O’Hanlon has officially left by mutual consent, though the club statement certainly reads as though the 49-year-old has paid the price for a “stuttering start” to a season in which the club are determined to win promotion to the Evo-Stik premier at all costs.
The former Republic of Ireland goalkeeper, who had been in the job less than two years, came within 90 minutes of promotion in his only full season in charge at Kellamergh Park, beaten by Chorley in May’s play-off final.
The arrival of the ex-Preston North End caretaker boss, initially as a special adviser to manager Mick Fuller, appeared a real coup for a club in the fourth tier of non-league football.
The previous year O’Hanlon had been No.2 at Barnsley, helping them to the FA Cup semi-finals via victories over Liverpool and Chelsea.
A most encouraging start to this season brought 13 points from the first 15, with four 3-0 wins, but Fylde’s form has since dipped, despite investment in big-name strikers Keigan Parker and Lee Thorpe.
Cup commitments have seen Fylde fall behind on their league fixtures, yet they have won only one of their last five (one in seven in all competitions) and stand eighth in First Division North, 16 points behind leaders Curzon Ashton.
Chairman David Haythornthwaite said: “Everyone knows we are a hugely ambitious club and to make progress we need to keep moving up the pyramid. This will be our third year in the Evo-Stik First Division North and we need to get out this season if at all possible.
“This was difficult for all concerned at the club but particularly for me, as I have had a longstanding personal friendship with Kelham for many years. However, in the end, our vision on how to progress the club at all levels differed with that of the manager.”
Haythornthwaite has identified possible targets and Fuller takes temporary charge until an appointment is made.
O’Hanlon was unavailable for comment last night.