AFC Fylde 1, Barwell 0
AFC Fylde stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games but this was a narrow Evo-Stik Northern Premier victory over a tough Barwell side who were in it right to the end.
Matt Blinkhorn bagged the only goal in what was Fylde’s best spell of the game just after half-time.
But struggling Barwell were able to repel all other Coasters attacks and looked dangerous themselves each time they had a sight on the Fylde goal.
Richie Allen had the ball in the back of Liam Castle’s net inside two minutes but it was chalked off for offside as he latched onto Blinkhorn’s through ball.
Allen was pulling all the strings early on and had two more efforts on goal from lay-offs around the edge of Barwell’s box which was both deflected wide inside the first 15 minutes.
The remainder of the half saw the visitors settle into the game and create a number of chances of their own.
Goalkeeper Castle took the opportunity to send a free-kick into the mixer from the halfway line only for Scott Hadland to head over the bar on 33 minutes.
Then Thomas Weale saw his shot turned wide of the post off a defender’s boot three minutes later and five minutes before half-time Daniel Spencer’s effort had the same outcome.
The spectators were hoping the game would spark into life in the second half within three minutes of the restart Blinkhorn gave Fylde a deserved lead with his second goal in as many games.
After a fine move from midfield, Blinkhorn was fed by Allen and he was able to take his time, tee up his shot and curl it around the onrushing Castle into the bottom right hand corner.
This started a great spell of possession and chances for the Coasters, and two minutes later Blinkhorn was played in again but shot over the bar from just inside the box. Fylde then saw two more chances go awry – Allen was unlucky to shoot into the side-netting before Sean Cooke shot straight at Castle from 25 yards.
Barwell had a penalty shout waved away just after the hour mark claiming a hand ball from a Fylde defender, but the referee was quick to shake his head and point to his chest and the game carried on with Fylde on the break.
It didn’t stop the visitors creating more efforts on goal, though, but thankfully none were clinical enough to trouble Fylde keeper Ben Hinchliffe – Ben Love, Kevin Charley and Stuart Hendrie with the efforts.
The final minutes saw more half chances created by Fylde as Michael Barnes, Allen and Danny Lloyd failed to extend their side’s lead.
One goal proved enough to keep Fylde third, still three points behind Skelmersdale, and manager Dave Challinor said: “The big positive was that we won but we were not at our best by any stretch of the imagination. It’s good to see Blinks get on the score sheet again but I don’t think we’re a side that is heavily reliant on one person to score us goals as we have threats from all over.”
“The biggest concern was that we didn’t create an awful lot and we could have been a lot, lot better and I thought we were better in the first half against the wind once again.”
The Coasters head to the North East next Saturdeay to play a Blyth Spartans side who are just outside the play-off places on goal difference.