Frickley Athletic 0. AFC Fylde 2
This hard-earned win in West Yorkshire stretched Fylde’s unbeaten run to 18 games, including 16 victories as they pursue a league and cup treble.
The Frickley pitch is renowned for its uneven bounce and hardly suited the Coasters’ expansive style but this was a very professional performance.
The hosts had the first chance when their man of the match Fernando Moke shot straight at Fylde keeper Ben Hinchliffe.
The Coasters responded quickly and Richie Allen beat his man to put a cross in, but Andy Russell could not find the target under pressure.
Then Sean Cooke shot well wide and Matty Blinkhorn’s shot from a Mike Barnes cross was blocked.
Blinkhorn too shot wide as Fylde continued to create half-chances, though neither keeper was tested in the first half-hour.
Hinchliffe was the first to be called into serious action, reacting well to save Moke’s shot from a tight angle.
It was only in the final minute of the half that Frickley keeper Ben Simpson had a really anxious moment, rooted to the spot as Barnes’ cross sailed just over.
The Coasters made the perfect start to the second half with a goal inside two minutes.
Frickley needlessly conceded a corner within 20 seconds of the restart and never really cleared the danger. Fylde won a free-kick and the ball bobbled around the box before Cooke turned to fire into the bottom corner.
The home side almost responded immediately as Moke made space for himself only to shoot wide.
Twice within a minute the Coasters went close to doubling their lead. First a Barnes cross skimmed off the heads of two players and forced Simpson into a sharp low save, then Blinkhorn had another shot blocked from a good position.
Blinkhorn then seized on Simpson’s fluffed clearance on 56 minutes but his first-time shot from 40 yards went agonisingly wide of the open goal.
Coasters skipper Brad Barnes was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow card following a challenge on Moke and this seemed to spur the home side on. They were awarded a penalty when Andy Russell was deemed to have tugged a player’s shirt.
But Frickley, who lost a penalty shoot-out to Fylde in their Doodson Sport Cup semi-final three weeks ago, failed from the spot again as Hinchliffe saved Sam Denton’s attempt.
The Coasters regained control and substitute Harry Winter who released Blinkhorn for another fine opportunity. A sublime turn left the striker one-on-one with Simpson but the keeper saved well.
Simpson then had to palm over an Allen cross which caught the wind, then Russell failed to control his header from the resulting corner.
Latest signing Karl Noon came on for his Coasters debut late on and his side finally sealed their win as the game entered the 90th minute. Allen ran 30 yards and drilled an unstoppable shot past Simpson to seal the points.
Frickley never stopped working throughout the five minutes of added time but Fylde deserved to come away with the points.
The performance pleased manager Dave Challinor, who said: “I thought we played well in the first half and just lacked a little quality in the final third. It was not easy to create chances and tougher to take them, and we felt if we kept on creating we would eventually stick one away.
“We got a great start to the second half, then for 15 minutes I thought we were fantastic. Had the penalty not been saved, it could have been a different game but it was a much-deserved win.”
The three teams above Fylde in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier won too, though Challinor’s side hope to rise with a positive result at Rushall Olympic on Tuesday (7.45pm).
Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hankin, Sumner, Denson, Russell, B Barnes, M Barnes (Lloyd), Booth (Winter), Blinkhorn (Noon), Cooke, Allen; subs not used: C Hughes, M Hughes.
Fylde have re-signed goalkeeper Dave Stevenson as cover for Hinchliffe. Stevenson, who has rejoined the club from New Mills, is back in training after a finger injury.