AFC Fylde’s FA Cup dream was shattered by League Two Stanley at Kellamergh Park on Saturday.
Stanley striker Will Hatfield had not scored for 13 games but netted all four to wreck the Coasters’ giantkilling hopes and ensure that Adam Farrell’s eighth goal in seven games was nothing more than a late consolation for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier side.
Three divisions and 67 league places may have separated the clubs before kick-off, but after negotiating four tough qualifying rounds Fylde had earned the right to dream of an upset in former Blackpool defender Leam Richardson’s first game after his permanent appointment as Stanley boss.
The scoreline probably flattered Richardson’s men as Fylde matched them in the middle of the park, but the full-time team were more clinical when it mattered most.
However, both sides made mistakes in the final third in the opening half-hour as crosses and through-balls were driven too long, while Fylde saw a shooting chance go begging after 15 minutes as both Joe Booth and Jack Dorney hesitated and the ball was cleared.
Benin international Rommy Boco was lively up front for the visitors but also lacked an end product as his cross landed on the roof of the net.
It was a cross by defender Rob Atkinson, on loan from Fleetwood Town, which found its intended target and resulted in the breakthrough on 32 minutes, Hatfield beating keeper Ben Hinchliffe to the ball at the near post
Hatfield doubled his and Stanley’s tally on the stroke of half-time, dealing a sucker punch to the Coasters’ dreams.
Fylde failed to clear in a goalmouth scramble and Hatfield headed home from close range.
Home manager Dave Challinor made a triple substitution at half-time in the hope of salvaging the game and Adam Sumner went agonisingly close to pulling one back on 74 minutes, blasting a ferocious left-foot strike from all of 30 yards narrowly wide.
But it was over as a contest three minutes later, when Hatfield tapped home following another goalmouth scramble to complete his hat-trick, much to the disappointment of most in the 1,213 crowd.
Hatfield made it four on 86 minutes, converting the rebound after his initial shot from the edge of the area had been excellently saved by Hinchliffe.
Farrell finally gave the home fans something to cheer about in the final minute, turning in Paul Jarvis’ cross from six yards.
Fylde can look forward to refocussing on their league campaign – they have between four and six games in hand on most of the nine teams above them because of the cup achievements from which they can take great heart.
However, first comes two more cup-ties – the small matter of a Lancashire FA Trophy second-round clash with Atherton Laburnum Rovers at Kellamergh Park tomorrow (7.45pm) before Saturday’s rematch at Solihull Moors in the third qualifying round of the FA Trophy. Fylde beat the Blue Square Bet North side 4-1 at the same stage of the FA Cup.
Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Sumner, Hughes, Steel (Winter 46), Taylor, Booth, Dorney (Dean 46), Farrell, M. Barnes (Jarvis 46), Allen; not used: Tennant, Carden, McCarthy, Doughty.