Five-star AFC Fylde turn on style against Banbury

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AFC Fylde put in a five-star performance to continue their fine start to 2023 with a 5-0 victory over Banbury United in the National League North.

Making the perfect start, Fylde took the lead with just three minutes on the clock when Emeka Obi floated a ball over the top of the Banbury defence for Connor Barrett to latch onto, hold off his marker and strike low into the far corner.

The Coasters were on top in the opening 15 minutes, and as Mo Faal was presented with the chance to drive at Ben Radcliffe, the Banbury defender poked the ball away and into the path of Nick Haughton, who forced Jack Harding into a good stop down low.

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Haughton didn’t have to wait long to work his way onto the scoresheet, though.

Nick Haughton heads in AFC Fylde's second of the game. Photos: Steve McLellanNick Haughton heads in AFC Fylde's second of the game. Photos: Steve McLellan
Nick Haughton heads in AFC Fylde's second of the game. Photos: Steve McLellan

Luke Charman did brilliantly to skip past a challenge inside the area and work the ball out to Luke Conlan, who hung a cross into the six-yard box for Haughton to head in.

Fylde were nullifying anything Banbury did on the attack, which led to Barrett fancying his chances again, this time from around 25 yards out, but Harding sprung across his line to parry away.

Banbury had sight of goal on one occasion through Ben Acquaye when he drove with pace and power at Luke Conlan, but the Coasters full-back did superbly to slow Acquaye down and eventually take pressure off with a good block just outside the area.

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However, just before the break, Adam Murray’s men found a third after Barrett slid Charman in down the right. He worked some space to flash a ball across the face of goal, where Mo Faal was waiting to backheel in.

The second-half message was to pick up where they left off, and Murray’s side certainly did that when Haughton floated a corner to the back post, and Obi was there to turn home.

Substitute Pierce Bird had slotted into the back three like he hadn’t been away, and as he grew into the game, he fancied his chances from distance, which was just a lick of paint away from hitting the net as the ball clipped the post.

Each time the Coasters ventured forward, they looked as if they were going to score. This time, Haughton dropped a shoulder and rifled one towards the top corner, but Harding was behind it with strong fists.

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It was an afternoon of total domination from the Coasters, and they capped a wonderful 90 minutes off with a fifth when Joe Rowley burst into the box and lashed a ball across goal, where Faal stuck out a leg and rippled the back of the net.

With a few minutes left on the clock, Fylde could have had more. Danny Whitehead first was unlucky to be kept out by a superb Harding save when he smashed a first-time volley at goal before Rowley unselfishly cutback for Charman on the penalty spot, only for the striker to see his shot at goal blocked.

AFC Fylde: Neal; Obi (60’ Morrison), Whitmore, Conlan, Cranston (44’ Bird), Barrett (69’ Rowley); Philliskirk, Whitehead; Haughton, Charman; Faal. Unused subs: Hatfield, Ligendza.

Banbury United: Harding, Smile, Williams, Radcliffe (27’ Dugmore), Golding, Babos (60’ Langmead), Reilly, Rasulo, Acquaye, Stevens, Gordon. Unused Subs: Landers, Hickman, Taylor.