Start settles nerves but finish is frantic

AFC Fylde v Lancaster City.'Bradley Barnes for AFC Fylde.

AFC Fylde v Lancaster City.'Bradley Barnes for AFC Fylde.

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Radcliffe Borough 1 AFC Fylde 2

Two first-half goals were enough to extend second-placed Fylde’s winning run to six games in Evo-Stik First Division North.

A goal inside four minutes from striker Andy Fowler settled the visitors’ nerves before Bradley Barnes doubled the lead after 27 minutes.

And although struggling Radcliffe scored the only goal of a tight second half through Matthew Chadwick, Fylde held on to remain within three points of leaders Curzon Ashton.

Richie Allen almost created an opportunity for Matty Kay within two minutes, and Shaun Connor had Boro’s first shot 60 seconds later.

The deadlock was soon broken as a cross from Michael Barnes found Allen in the box, and when his shot was blocked it fell kindly for Fowler to smash home from close range.

After ten minutes, and after a good period of possession, Bradley Barnes tried to lob former Manchester United goalkeeper Nick Culkin from outside the box but shot too high.

Zac Jones then had to be at full stretch to keep Connor’s low free-kick out with 15 minutes on the clock, then two minutes later Chadwick was denied by a good tackle from Phil Doughty in the penalty area.

On 23 minutes, Bradley Barnes squandered a great chance to double the Coasters’ lead when he steered his header high over the bar.

Four minutes later he made amends by firing in the rebound when his first shot was brilliantly saved by Culkin.

Allen’s shot was cleared off the line by Connor on the stroke of half-time.

Five minutes into the second half, Fowler should have made it three when he found himself one-on-one with Culkin from a poor back-pass, but he decided to chip the keeper rather than round him and the shot sailed over.

Joe Booth then tried his luck from the edge of Boro’s box, volleying just over the bar with 62 minutes gone, and two minutes later Dave Sherlock almost pulled one back for the home side.

Culkin had to be at his best again to tip a corner from Adam Sumner away from Booth’s head on 68 minutes, then Keigan Parker couldn’t quite connect with an Allen cross.

Booth was the third Fylde player to try to lob Culkin and again the ball cleared the bar.

After that the home side began to build up some pressure on the Coasters’ defence, Ben Wharton had a penalty shout waved away with 15 minutes left, but with 79 minutes on the clock a cross-cum-shot from Chadwick found its way into the Fylde net from a tight angle. A tense final ten minutes ensued but Fylde clung on for the three points.

Manager Dave Challinor was delighted with the win, saying: “I was pleased we went in two up at half-time, and in the second half I thought we were comfortable, but credit to Radcliffe for scoring a goal and setting up a frantic last ten minutes.

We still need to work on a few things but I’m delighted with the win, and as long as we keep picking up the results there will be no complaints from me.”

CHRIS PARK

Fylde: Jones, Heywood, Sumner, Doughty, Steel (C), B. Barnes, Booth, Kay (Mercer 76), Fowler (Parker 52), M. Barnes (Jarvis 88), Allen; not used: Nightingale, McDonald.