IT was a red letter day for Cambridge as they secured their first away win since December 2011 – but for Fylde it was just a case of a day for bright-red faces.
They were never in front in this contest and, to be brutally honest, nor did they ever look like being against a side rock-bottom of National League One.
But then Fylde have ‘previous’ against struggling sides. They lost home and away last season to Barking, who went down.
Fylde just never got going, even though they crossed the Cambridge line four times.
The opposition has to be given every credit for a spirited display and no-one could deny that they were worthy winners, but they were aided by some sloppy defending.
The Fylde side was much changed from the previous week’s win over Wharfedale and maybe that lack of continuity played a part in their downfall as they produced their worst home showing in a long time.
Cambridge drew first blood in the fourth minute. Fylde were penalised for not releasing by former Super League referee Karl Kirkpatrick and from the resulting line-out the visitors worked a position for no.8 Stephen Hipwell to barge over from close range. Harry Key added the extras.
Fylde’s response was swift. Richard Kenyon’s place-kick struck the foot of a Cambridge player, giving Fylde the lineout throw.
Evan Stewart soared high to collect, and after a strong drive by the Fylde forwards Paul Arnold burrowed over strongly to score. Kenyon struck the conversion sweetly to level it at 7-7.
Poor tackling by Fylde allowed Cambridge full-back Michael Gillick to make an attacking run. The home side, right on the back foot, were penalised twice, the second occasion resulting in prop Simon Griffiths being yellow-carded.
There was no let-up for Fylde as they tried to clear, a mistake by Kenyon allowing Patrick Tapley to follow up smartly and touch down to put his side ahead again, Key missing the conversion.
Fylde hit back and Kenyon dinked a superb kick which found the grateful arms of Rawlings out on the left.
The big back row still had work to do but his catch was sure and he hurled his frame over the line, doing well to keep in play. Kenyon missed the kick, so this eventful contest was tied up at 12-12.
Rawlings knocked on attempting an interception and Cambridge scored their third try from the scrum, centre John Hale taking advantage of some more indifferent defending on the half-hour mark.
Key added a straightforward conversion to put his side 19-12 ahead against the form-book.
Fylde’s response was again swift. Rawlings picked the ball out of the air with athleticism allied to strength, and in the ensuing forward rush it was Stewart who claimed the try.
Cambridge, though, retained the lead at 19-17 as Kenyon was wide with the conversion.
Three minutes before the break, Cambridge missed the chance to extend that with a missed long-range penalty by Key.
Fylde looked well on for a try to take the lead right on the stroke of half-time but Kenyon’s outside pass to Oli Brennand was forward.
Five minutes into the second half, Rawlings was penalised for not releasing and Key was wide with his 45-yard penalty attempt.
It was a scrappy start to the second 40 by Fylde and Cambridge added to their advantage, scoring a bonus- point try on 48 minutes.
Chris Briers was guilty of a wild hack as he attempted to clear his lines.
It only set up a Cambridge attack and Michael Gillick burst through to score, another soft try conceded by the home side.
Gillick converted his own touchdown and Cambridge were two scores ahead at 26-17.
The situation was fraught for Fylde but Kenyon’s penalty in front of the posts on 62 minutes reduced the arrears.
But Cambridge punished some sloppy defending and Tapley was allowed free rein as he galloped through flimsy challenges on a 35-yard surge to the line.
Bale added the goal and Cambridge were looking good for victory at 33-20.
On 75 minutes, Cambridge replacement Darrell Dyer was yellow-carded and though Fylde got a rolling maul moving forward.
The visitors won it back as the home pack was penalised.
In the fourth minute of added-on time, Jonny Roddam scuttled in at the corner, replacement Chris Johnson landing an excellent conversion.
That secured two points for Fylde, one by way of a four-try bonus point and another for finishing with seven points of the deserved victors.
Filched, plundered, call it what you will, this was a day when Fylde collected two points they didn’t really deserve,
Fylde: C Briers; Spragg, Waywell, Barrow (Johnson, 70) Brennand; Kenyon, De La Harpe (Wallwork, 65); Birchall, Rodam, Griffiths (Altham,59) Arnold, Banks (Vernon, 65) Stewart, McGinnis, Rawlings.