Match report: AFC Fylde 7 Aldershot Town 1
Ten-man AFC Fylde sent shockwaves through the National League with a 7-1 mauling of third-placed Aldershot Town.
Having already put five past promotion hopefuls Tranmere Rovers and six past league leaders Macclesfield Town, Dave Challinor’s high-flyers went one better with a sensational rout at Mill Farm.
Danny Rowe’s hat-trick inside 20 minutes set the tone for the match, alongside a stunning strike from Sam Finley and an early equaliser from Josh McQuoid.
Simon Grand made it five on the stroke of half-time before a second from Finley – who was subsequently sent off – and a special strike from Jack Muldoon rounded off an unbelievable afternoon.
Challinor made two changes from the side that beat Dover Athletic a fortnight ago, with James Hardy and Serhat Tasdemir replacing Jason Taylor and Henry Jones in midfield.
The hosts got off to a blistering start, opening the scoring inside two minutes.
Finley picked out Hardy 20 yards from goal and Rowe practically barged his team-mate off the ball before slapping a strike past the helpless Aldershot keeper, Jake Cole.
Much to the frustration of Challinor, their lead was shortlived with the visitors level three minutes later.
McQuoid got himself goal side of Jordan Tunnicliffe and cleverly poked an effort into the opposite corner.
The goals continued to flow and the Coasters found themselves back ahead with barely 10 minutes on the clock as Finley took a touch 25 yards from goal before launching a stunning strike into the top left-hand corner.
It could have been three second later had Cheye Alexander not somehow cleared Grand’s header off the line.
However, there wasn’t long to wait for a third as Rowe expertly headed home from Muldoon’s cross.
There was just no stopping the league’s top scorer and he sensationally secured his treble fewer than 60 seconds later.
Hardy played through Rowe and he made no mistake with a precise, low effort.
Adam McDonnell looked to hit back for the shell-shocked visitors with a free-kick that whistled narrowly wide of Jay Lynch’s upright.
The game eventually started to settle and Aldershot spurned a glorious chance when Scott Rendell’s effort was well blocked by Lynch and Fabian Robert headed the rebound narrowly wide.
Tasdemir and Muldoon both had chances, the former smashing a shot straight at Cole and the latter launching one over the bar.
The home side rounded off a perfect half with a fifth goal on the stroke of half-time.
Finley whipped in a corner from the right and Grand powered past his man and nodded home at the near post to seal a dream 45 minutes.
Fylde picked up from where they left off after the break with Muldoon fizzing a 25-yard effort a whisker over the bar, before Robert tested Lynch at the other end.
Rowe was on the prowl for more and almost found a way through when he nicked the ball past the onrushing Cole but Will Evans was back in the nick of time to clear.
Nevertheless, the Coasters made it six on the hour when Finley advanced towards the edge of the area.
While a ball wide to Muldoon looked a better option, the midfielder instead crashed in another stunning strike off the crossbar.
However, his afternoon very quickly turned sour when he was shown a second yellow card in the celebrations.
The scoring was completed when substitute Luke Burke attempted to break clear.
Although he was hacked down by Lewis Kinsella, referee Andrew Miller played a good advantage, allowing Muldoon to race through and lift a delightful effort over Cole that nestled into the back of the net.
AFC Fylde: Lynch, Bond, Tunnicliffe, Grand, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Finley, Hardy (Burke 58), Muldoon, Tasdemir (Chettle 67), Rowe (Smith 67). Subs not used: Jones, Blinkhorn.
Aldershot Town: Cole, Alexander, Evans, Fowler, Kinsella, Oyeleke, McQuiod, McDonnell (Gallagher 46), Rowe (Taylor 46), Robert (McClure 55), Rendell. Subs not used: Fenlon, Reynolds.
Referee: Andrew Miller.