Fylde 35 Cinderford 29

Paul Arnold moves the ball along the line after breaking through in midfield
Paul Arnold moves the ball along the line after breaking through in midfield
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Fylde recorded their first win in four matches, but it was a close call.

Too close for comfort – needlessly so, in fact.

Playing against a side scrapping for their lives in National League One, it was the cleaner kicking of Chris 
Johnson that made the difference.

Each side scored five tries, but where Fylde had the edge was in the conversion rate.

Johnson landed all five, while his kicking counterpart Michael Wilcox could only muster two in this high scoring affair.

Fylde just shaded it, but found Cinderford obdurate opponents, ones who were always competitive and made the home side battle all the way.

Fylde were not at their best, but they could boast clinical finishers in Oli Brennand and Ollie Viney, the club’s player of the season.

Martin Wallwork was busy at scrum half after coming on for the unfortunate Jordan Dorringtoin in the opening minutes, while Joe Robinson was an eye-catching second half substitute for the injured Gareth Gore.

The over-riding impression was that Fylde really should have shut out Cinderford long before the tense final minutes, but on balance just about deserved the win.

Paul Arnold nearly made an early breakthrough, but his off-load just eluded Viney’s grasp, a let-off for the visitors.

Play was then held up for several minutes for treatment to Dorrington, who went down after a hard, crunching but fair tackle by Cinderford’s Roger Birkin.

He got up eventually, but was still dazed and had to be replaced by Martin Wallwork.

The next 10 minutes proved scrappy, with both sides struggling to make leeway in a match played in cool, un-Spring like conditions.

Johnson and Brennand combined neatly down the left as they put the Cinderford defence on the back foot, but the move came to nought and, in any case, Brennand was penalised for being in front of Johnson when the Fylde fly-half essayed a chip ahead.

It was Cinderford who broke the deadlock on 23 minutes, but Fylde were the authors of their own misfortune.

Johnson tried a hugely ambitious penalty trying to find Warren Spragg wide on the right.

The ploy failed miserably and the ball was intercepted by Cinderford, who made the blunder by Johnson the launchpad for a swift, decisive counter-attack. It ended with visiting hooker Koree Britton plunging over between the posts for a try converted by Wilcox, who had latched on to the poor Fylde penalty in the first place.

On 31 minutes Cinderford were reduced to 14 men when Will Keenan was yellow-carded, apparently for persistent foul play.

Fylde made the most of the one-man advantage as they stayed camped on the Cinderford line, Sam Beaumont supplying an outside pass to Brennand, who dived over with a flourish.

Johnson’s fine kick from wide out tied up the scores after 34 minutes.

Brennand was on the alert at the other end of the field to clear the ball into touch as he beat two Cinderford attackers to the ball as they lurked too close for comfort to the Fylde line.

Fylde went in front for the first time on 40 minutes, Brennand darting in for a brace.

The try’s construction lay deep in Fylde’s own half.

They won the ball against the head in a Cinderford attacking scrum.

Not for the first time in his Fylde career, Steve McGinnis was in the right place at the right time to pick up and he broke away, but only found Evan Stewart in support.

Fylde skipper Stewart could not make it to the line as he was scragged, but in the follow-up Viney made a clever break before unleashing to Brennand, who finished it all off with typical aplomb. Johnson added the goal points.

There were eight minutes added on for stoppages and injuries and Cinderford made the most of it.

After a period of sustained pressure, lock Edward King crashed over, but Fylde kept their lead, at 14-12, when Wilcox spurned a comparatively straightforward conversion.

Fylde stretched their lead on 47 minutes with another counter-attack from deep.

Wallwork and Arnold were there at the outset before the ball was worked to Johnson, who kicked ahead for Viney to win the sprint to the line.

Johnson converted, but Cinderford responded almost immediately.

Chris Briers’ attempt at a clearance kick was charged down by Wilcox, who followed up to score an unconverted try.

It took Fylde just two minutes to respond. Viney picked up a loose clearance and raced all of 50 yards to claim his second try and register a Fylde bonus point.

Johnson’s successful conversion after 51 minutes made it 28-17 to the home side.

Fylde pressed for a good 10 minutes after that, but Cinderford proved stubborn in defensive mode.

Brennand broke clear again, scenting a possible hat-trick, but his run was halted by Cinderford’s outstanding player, Wilcox, who was to stamp himself on proceedings on 76 minutes, dodging through deftly for a try to shock the Fylde system.

Wilcox augmented his own try to reduce Fylde’s advantage to 28-24.

It was a nervy time, but it lasted less than 90 seconds.

That was the time it took before Warren Spragg intercepted a stray pass by Cinderford and strolled in for a try, goaled again by Johnson.

Cinderford were not done with and as the contest moved into overtime, visiting winger Sam Baker made the most of space wide on the left to score the concluding try.

Fylde were far from at their best, but it was enough for a maximum haul.

Cinderford were glad enough with two bonus points, so much so that in the final play of the game they kicked for touch to end the game, happy with their reward.

But as skipper Stewart said: “I was surprised at that lack of ambition and that they didn’t try for a win. They might regret it at the end of the season.”

Fylde: Viney; Spragg, C Briers, S Briers (Barrow, 70) Brennand; Johnson, Dorrington (Wallwork 8); Birchall (Griffiths,61) Burtonwood Rylance, 61)Lewis, Arnold, Gore Robinson, 40) Stewart,McGinnis, Beaumont.

l Fylde could be without lock Gore and scrum half Dorrington for Saturday’s trip to Richmond because of the injuries they suffered against Cinderford.