AFC Fylde 0, Chester 3
AFC Fylde saw title rivals Chester cruise into the semi-finals of the Evo-Stik League President’s Cup last night ... but Kelham O’Hanlon’s side still hope to have the last laugh.
The top two in First Division North meet again in Warton on the final day of the season, when top spot could be on the line, though Chester were the top dogs last night.
O’Hanlon was presented with a magnum of champagne for his manager of the month before kick-off, but there were no champagne moments for his side in last night’s quarter-final.
The manager was dealt a major blow when three of his Lancaster-based players broke down on the M6 and messrs Stringfellow, Elderton and Edge could only be named as late substitutes, arriving just minutes before kick-off.
Midfielder Matt Mahoney switched to right-back and Matt Lawlor shifted to centre-half to partner Phil Doughty, but it really unsettled the home side.
Although Fylde bossed the opening exchanges, it was Chester who took their opportunities.
Matt Walwyn should have done better than fire wide from ten yards out after Mahoney’s cross from the right was not cleared.
Then both Tom Cahill and John Hills had Adam Judge scrambling across his goal with well-struck efforts, but the hosts were unable to make their pressure tell.
Chester’s Chris Simm had a header disallowed for pushing before their talisman Ian Howard played in the recalled Kyle Wilson to slot the opener past the advancing Dave Stevenson after 29 minutes.
Howard was popping up everywhere, and after he pulled the ball back from the byline Greg Stones let fly with a rasping drive that Stevenson did well to push away to safety.
O’Hanlon’s team missed the chance equalise when Walwyn escaped down the left and crossed for the onrushing Mike Nolan, but the teenager saw his first-time attempt from the edge of the area touched round the post by Judge.
Howard showed Nolan how to do it five minute before the interval, when he collected Wilson’s pass and rifled a left-footed shot through the legs of Stevenson from just inside the area.
The half-time whistle could not come quickly enough for Fylde, after which rested winger Mike Barnes was brought on.
The arrival of the former Manchester United youngster, who stood out in last month’s 2-2 league draw between the sides in Chester, gave Fylde some optimism and the additions of ‘latecomers’ Stringfellow and Elderton gave Fylde hope.
But any chance of a home comeback were dashed on the hour, when Mahoney missed Tom Field’s cross from the right and Robbie Booth dispatched a well-placed effort past Stevenson.
A frustrated O’Hanlon said: “The enforced changes affected our shape and approach to the game. Chester are a very good side and they took their opportunities well.
“We move on now and focus our attention on league points and we will give our all to catch Chester. We know we are better than we showed tonight.” Fylde are at home to Woodley Sports on Saturday
Fylde: Stevenson, Mahoney, Doughty, Lawlor (Stringfellow), Hills (Elderton), Kay, Booth, Nolan, Walwyn, Cahill, Bell (Barnes). Subs: Edge, Penswick.