Downey gets Fylde back on the up

Atherton LR 1 AFC Fylde 2

FYLDE got the previous weekend's FA Vase disappointment out of their system as their Vodkat premier division promotion campaign rolled on at Crilly Park.

Fylde made five changes but still made the brighter start on a difficult pitch.

But one of the five brought in, Matt Walwyn, limped off early with a hamstring injury and was replaced by Richie Allen, who linked up with ex-Bolton frontman Chris Downey in a new-look strikeforce.

Allen played his part in the 29th-minute opener, breaking down the right and firing in a shot which the keeper could only parry as far as midfielder David Prout, who headed home on his first league start since stepping up from Unibond side Mossley.

Downey went close to doubling the lead before half-time but saw his snapshot flash wide of the post, leaving Fylde with work to do to finish off young and competitive hosts.

Fylde struggled for fluency playing up the slope until the 59th minute, when Downey sent Allen racing clear and the former Fleetwood Town man cut the ball back superbly for Downey to grab the second.

Atherton pulled one back on 75 minutes, when Jonathan Bullough had an empty net to shoot into after keeper Peter Summerfield had raced out of his goal and collided with team-mate Martin Moran.

Fylde captain Dougie Shaw marshalled his defence well to deny Atherton any hope of an equaliser, despite their late pressure.

Fellow defender Phil Robinson limped off with a groin injury and is doubtful for tomorrow's home tie against Bacup Borough in the Vodkat League Cup.

Manager Mick Fuller insisted the changes were not a response to the Vase exit against Needham Market. He said: "We wanted to give an opportunity to some lads who had been waiting patiently.

"We have a large squad and the lads who came in did well. We had to survive a late Atherton surge but this was an important victory and there is a lot more to come from this squad of players."

AFC remain four points clear with four games in hand on second-placed Newcastle Town.

Fylde are at home tomorrow night, when they play Bacup Borough in round two of the League Cup (7:45pm).