Fylde are good value for Conference conquest

AFC Fylde v Southport'Michael Barnes

AFC Fylde v Southport'Michael Barnes

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AFC Fylde 3, Southport 2

GOALS by Dave Swarbrick, Ross Ainsworth and trialist Richie Allen earned Fylde a major pre-season boost with victory over visitors from the Blue Square Bet Premier.

Welcoming Conference opposition to Kellamergh Park for the second time in four days, Fylde again came out of the blocks strongly and struck first.

After good build-up play by the Coasters, Ben Waddington’s shot from just outside the box was handled and Swarbrick converted the penalty for his second pre-season goal.

But whereas Fleetwood Town hit back to win 2-1 at Warton on Saturday, Fylde pressed home their advantage this time by doubling their lead just three minutes later.

Substitute Ainsworth seized on a mix-up in the Southport defence, slotting into an open net from close range after the ball had been spilled.

Both sides threatened in the lively closing stgages of the first half as Fylde protected their 2-0 lead until the break, with John Hills and Michael Barnes in outstanding form.

Southport made three substitutions for the second half and immediately looked dangerous but they had to wait until the 72nd minute to get on the scoresheet.

Having defended so well, Fylde lost concentration to allow a Southport trialist to fire in from the edge of the area.

Even so, Fylde continued to look the better side and passed the ball around well.

Danny Penswick had two clear-cut opportunities to restore Fylde’s two-goal cushion but his first shot was well saved before a header flew agonisingly wide after a first-class build-up.

The third Fylde goal finally arrived with three minutes to go as former fans’ favourite Allen came off the bench to score from close range from Isaac Kusaloka’s cross.

The scoring wasn’t quite over as Southport’s trialist scored his second in the closing seconds.

Manager Kelham O’Hanlon could take plenty of encouragement from this display against a team three divisions above Fylde.

He said: “It was another good performance from the lads and we got what we wanted from the game. It was good to see the younger lads stepping up again as we have a few injuries which makes it difficult.”

Fylde continue their build-up to the big kick-off against Garforth on August 13 with a visit to Barnoldswick Town on Saturday.

CHRISTOPHER PARK

AFC Fylde: Whiteside, McNiven, Hills, Betts, Steel (C), Kay, Booth (Ainsworth 11), Penswick, Swarbrick (Allen 65), Waddington (Kusaloka 72), Barnes; Not used: Unsworth, Doughty.