Fylde 19 Wharfedale 15
On the day of the William Shakespeare celebration, it was a case of ‘all’s well that ends well’ as Fylde pulled off a dramatic late win, one that was not in any kind of script.
The first half was almost embarrassing to watch
And it was earned after a ‘comedy of errors’ style performance in the first half, when Fylde were as bad as they had been in many a long day, out-played by a Wharfedale side already doomed to relegation from National League One.
Fylde trailed 12-0 at half-time and it could have been much worse, as they did little right. It was almost embarrassing to watch, such was the ineptitude on show.
It looked all up for Fylde as late as the 75th minute, when they trailed 15-5, but two late converted tries by Evan Stewart and Oli Brennand saved the day, though whether they deserved it was a moot point,certainly if you were born on the ‘wrong’ side of the Pennines!
Fylde were much-improved in the second half, though it could not have got much worse.
After the break, little was seen of Wharfedale as an attacking force and for a time it looked like Fylde were determined to squander any chances they got.
That was until those face-saving tries, which prevented Fylde completing their home campaign red-faced.
Player-coach Paul Arnold came off the bench for the second half, clearly when a hands-on approach was needed, and they did improve for his presence and ball-skills.
Credit to Fylde for keeping going as they did, but the performance as a whole left serious questions as to how the club will fare next season if they allow standards to slip like this on a regular basis.
After a sluggish start, the action sparked into life on 11 minutes. Wharfedale turned the screw, forcing Fylde into giving away a succession of penalties near their own line.
The offences led to Mark Goodman being yellow-carded and the visitors took advantage, winger Oli Ciocgnini dodging his way through the depleted Fylde ranks to touch down. Jamie Guy added the goal points.
Wharfedale continued on the front foot as Fylde struggled and a promising move by the Yorkshire side ended, to the home team’s relief, with the ball thrown wildly into touch.
Fylde’s response was an eye-catching and bulldozing run by Scott Rawlings, though they couldn’t do anything with the penalty which followed.
Fylde bucked their ideas up on the half-hour – and about time too – as Scott Rawlings, Sam Bedlow and Stewart probed into the heart of Wharfedale territory as they sought an equalising score.
Scott Rawlings knocked on as he tried to grasp Bedlow’s off-load after a scrum near the visitors’ line. Fylde had a scare on 36 minutes, when attack suddenly turned to desperate defence. Wharfedale fly-half Guy intercepted Bedlow’s pass and kicked ahead.
Fortunately for Fylde, winger Jordan Dorrington showed the superior pace to win the chase back to the line.
It was a let-off but symptomatic of a downbeat and dispiriting display by Fylde in the opening half, when they were second-best by a long way.
Dorrington executed a promising break through the middle but was hurt in a pincer-movement tackle and had to be carried off, Anthony Bingham taking over.
As half-time approached, Danny Maher won a strike against the head to set up an attacking platform, but they proceeded to mess that up and the ball was eventually spilled.
There were eight minutes of stoppage-time – enough for Wharfedale to score again.
Several minutes of pounding away saw the Fylde line finally breached as centre Cameron Hudson grounded the ball. The conversion by Guy struck the woodwork.
Wharfedale led 12-0 at the break after an endurance test of a Fylde performance. The hosts needed some momentum, and although they attacked strongly at the start of the second half, sloppy handling let them down.
Tom Morton got in a good position as Wharfedale found themselves in full retreat, but he delayed his pass outside too long and another opportunity went begging.
Fylde got the breakthrough they sorely needed on 57 minutes, the ir two speed merchants combining to full effect.Brennand produced the first break before shifting the ball to Bingham, who arrowed through a narrow gap along the right wing and skirted inside to touch down nearer to the posts. However, Morton was well awry with a poor conversion attempt (5-12).
Wharfedale went back two scores in front on 62 minutes, when Guy slotted over a penalty. Play switched quickly to the other end and Arnold was bundled into touch close to the Wharfedale line. Brennand tried to skip through down the same channel but he too was manoeuvred off the field by last-ditch tackles.
On 75 minutes, Fylde at last gave themselves some hope after a period of sustained attack. Arnold gave Stewart a virtual walk-in try between the posts, goaled by Scott Rawlings to cut the gap to three
With two minutes left, Fylde pulled the match out of the fire when more attacks ended with Brennand squeezing over near the posts, Scott Rawlings converting.
There were several flaws throughout for Fylde but lack of commitment was not one of them. The relief and joy at the end was clear for all to see – and this end-of-season affair could never be labelled ‘much ado about nothing’.
Fylde: Briers, Dorrington,Bedlow, S Rawlings, Brennand; Morton, Nicholls; Wild, Maher, Lewis, Garrod, Gray, Goodman, Stewart, G Rawlings. Replacements: Griffiths, Arnold, Bingham, Wilkinson, Gregory.
• Fleetwood ended their North Lancs / Cumbria League season with a 41-13 home defeat by leaders Aspatria.