AFC Fylde 0 Blackburn Rovers 1: Coasters edged out in emotional celebration match for Luke Bennett
Connor McBride’s second-half strike was the difference between AFC Fylde and Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers as football fans returned to Mill Farm Stadium.
The Coasters' second pre-season friendly was entitled the Luke Bennett Celebration Fixture, dedicated to the memory of the Fylde teenager who is so sadly missed..
With 15 minutes to play, McBride latched on to a loose ball and curled home the only goal of the game to give Tony Mowbray’s men the victory in what was an even contest throughout.
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As he did at Squires Gate on Tuesday, Jim Bentley made mass changes at half-time, providing the full squad with valuable minutes in the run-up to the National League North season.
The Coasters held firm for the first half and limited Rovers to very few chances.
Experienced midfielder Bradley Johnson registered Blackburn's first attempt at goal, meeting Dan Pike’s cross and firing a deflected shot into the arms of Chris Neal.
In the 11th minute, both sets of supporters, players and staff paused to partake in an emotional minute’s applause to pay tribute to the life of Luke.
It took until the 25th minute for the first real opening to arrive and it came the way of former Coaster Luke Brennan.
The Rovers winger was gifted a glorious opportunity to fire his team into the lead from six yards out but Neal saved the low effort well with his feet.
Harry Chapman was the danger man for Rovers and he had the final effort before the half drew to a goalless end. The tricky winger’s long-range free-kick was smothered by the well-worked Neal.
A new-look Coasters XI started the second half, while Mowbray also made a multitude of changes.
Nick Haughton almost lifted the roof off Mill Farm as his long-range free-kick rattled the outside of the post.
Blackburn’s Durrant then tried his luck from a free-kick but Neal watched it travel wide of his near post.
The game’s only goal arrived in the 75th minute as Dan Butterworth pulled the ball back from the byline. McBride pounced and curled his shot into the far corner to the delight of the travelling fans.
Fylde began to push more bodies forward in search of a late equaliser, leaving space for the visitors to counter-attack. Blackburn's second-half captain Lewis Travis won the ball in midfield and released Jack Vale, who strode forward and fizzed an effort just wide.
An AFC Fylde triallist was handed the final chance of the match, weaving his way through to the edge of the 18-yard box before blazing an effort over the crossbar
The full-time whistle signalled a defeat for The Coasters but the afternoon was about much more than a football match.
It was a chance for both sets of supporters to come together, return to the terraces and pay tribute to a kind-hearted young man who we lost too early.
Fylde first-half team: Neal, Burke, Obi, Whitmore, Conlan, Philliskirk, Joyce, Shaw, Haughton, Tollitt, Hulme
Fylde second-half team: Jones, Triallist, Nolan, Whitmore, Conlan, Triallist, Philliskirk, Perkins, Osborne, Haughton, Hulme.
Subs: Sampson (61), Robinson (61), Gregson (77), Byrne (81), H. Jones (85).
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