Ill wind is a blow for impressive Gate

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Skelmersdale United 1 AFC Fylde 3

Fylde gave their promotion hopes a massive boost with this victory over second-placed Skelm.

Recent recruit Bradley Barnes’ first two goals for the club sealed the victory over a side who had started the day 14 points ahead of them.

Both teams came out looking for an early goal but the first clear chance did not arrive until the 18th minute, when Ricky Mercer was caught offside as he put the ball in the net from a rebounded off home keeper Sam Ashton.

Four minutes later, some excellent build-up play between Keigan Parker and Ritchie Allen resulted in the latter surging into the box to fire in a shot which rebounded for Parker to drive the ball home first time.

Joe Booth played in Michael Barnes on 25 minutes and his deflected shot was cleared off the line by defender Mike Burke.

The league top scorer Shaun Tuck was well contained by Fylde’s defence, though he did fire across the face of the goal on 36 minutes.

Seconds later, he went down in the box from Mercer’s challenge when played through on goal.

A minute on and Parker could have doubled the lead He found his way into the box and shot wide rather than crossing for his following attackers.

Skelmersdale found an equaliser on 43 minutes. Aaron Bowen collected the ball from a mistake by the Fylde defence and released Woolcott on the right of the box. His shot found its way through a crowded box and into the back of the net.

In the second half, Fylde continued to be the better team as Gary Stopforth, Booth and Bradley Barnes controlled the midfield.

They regained the lead on the hour, when Michael Barnes’ cross was met by Allen before Bradley Barnes eventually got the last touch, chesting the ball across the line.

On 71 minutes, Booth had a shot cleared off the line and seven minutes later Lee Thorpe headed Allen’s cross over from six yards out.

New signing Andy Fowler was judged offside when put through by Allen, but with seven minutes remaining Bradley Barnes sealed the points with an exquisite lob over the goalkeeper from the edge of the area.

This win could prove a crucial stepping stone ahead of two more games against promotion rivals: Witton Albion away on Wednesday and leaders Curzon Ashton at home on Saturday.

CHRIS PARK