Rushall Olympic 0, AFC Fylde 1
Bradley Barnes’ 88th-minute winner sent Fylde through to the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy, where they are away to Curzon Ashton on November 16.
The victory over Rushall was made all the more pleasing for manager Dave Challinor because his side was greatly depleted and playing conditions were extremely difficult.
Playing with the wind at their backs in the first half, the Coasters started well against a Rushall side that reached the final qualifying round of this season’s FA Cup.
Michael Barnes created the first clear chance with 13 minutes gone, beating his marker on the left and crossing low for Adam Sumner to fire over.
Fylde were enjoying a decent spell of possession, and after Barnes scuffed an effort wide five minutes later, Luke Denson came close when his shot flew narrowly over from all of 30 yards.
Sumner sent a low free-kick into the mixer which eluded everyone and Rushall goalkeeper Chris Gemmell did well to smother the ball on his line, with Danny Lloyd looking for a rebound.
Lloyd and Jack Dorney continued to trouble the home defence with forays into their area before Rushall finally found their way into the game with half-time looming.
A minute before the break, Ben Hinchliffe had to be alert to gather the ball in a goalmouth scramble before ex-pro Dele Adebola could get a vital touch on a deep cross into the six-yard box.
With the heavy rain adding to the incessant wind at the start of the second half, the odds were against Fylde as Rushall were now playing with the wind to their backs and with plenty of confidence.
However, Hinchliffe was never really tested as chances were punched clear or fired high over the bar from distance.
The home side’s best chance came on 63 minutes when Ahmed Obeng, who was a thorn in Fylde’s side in both league victories over the Coasters last season, failed to find the target with two successive attempts from inside a crowded box.
Fylde were defending well to ride the storm and began to get on the front foot as Dorney, Barnes and Lloyd led the charge. Dorney broke through the middle on 71 minutes and his fine ball over the top found Barnes, whose first-time effort went wide.
A minute later, the best chance of the match fell to Lloyd as he stole the ball from full-back Jimmy Turner on the edge of Rushall’s area and burst through one-on-one with Gemmell only to miss the target from 12 yards.
Then, with just two minutes remaining, Michael Barnes charged through and crossed to the far post . Lloyd knocked the ball back across goal for Brad Barnes to nod home another goal following his five against Droylsden last Tuesday.
Challinor said: “I thought we were brilliant. I knew it would be a hard task here with just 12 fit players and two youngsters on the bench.
“I said I wasn’t overly concerned about the result. I was more bothered about us showing spirit and character to come here and produce a good performance and deal with the awful conditions.
“At half-time I had a feeling they might have thought the job was done because we hadn’t scored. Then in the second half we had three really good chances, one we’ve taken, and overall we were exceptional. I think this result will take us an awful long way.”