Dave Challinor’s AFC Fylde squad were put through the ultimate test in North Wales with two matches on the same afternoon, both against sides managed by former Blackpool FC defenders.
Welsh Premier League side Connahs Quay, managed by Mark McGregor, and Cymru runners-up Rhyl FC, managed by Greg Strong, faced Fylde in quick succession, as Challinor’s teams mixed young players from their development squad with first-team regulars.
In the noon game at the Deeside Stadium, it was new striker James Dean who opened the scoring when the Connah’s Quay keeper rushed out of his goal to clear and missed the ball, which Dean rolled over the line.
Young midfielder Michael Galliers added a second goal with a superb free-kick from outside the box. Fylde had further chances to add to their tally but it remained 2-0.
The second game kicked off at 3pm at Rhyl’s Belle Vue ground, where Fylde were under pressure until Adam Farrell struck a post.
Fylde came back into the game strongly but it remained goalless at half-time.
It was all Fylde after the restart as new signing Jack Dorney’s cool chip gave them a deserved lead.
Brad Barnes smashed home from close range and then striker Isaac Kusaloka added a superb third goal with an overhead kick.
Kusaloka scored his second to complete an emphatic 4-0 win against a side who had stunned Challinor’s former club Colwyn Bay days earlier by beating them 5-2.
Challinor said: “It was a good workout for the lads and a positive outcome to come out with cleansheets and a few goals too. The younger players will have benefited from the experience.
“Pre-season is going well but there is still things for us to work on and we face a tougher test on Tuesday at Hyde United.”
The Blue Square Bet Premier new boys also have Fylde connections – they are now managed by former Fylde player coach Scott McNiven and Lytham-based former Bolton star Gavin McCann.
LATEST recruit Dorney, signed from Stockport Sports FC, is familiar to Fylde fans after scoring Chorley’s winner against the Coasters in the play-off final last year.