A disappointing performance against Ampthill and District saw bottom club Fylde fall to a seventh straight defeat in National One.
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The third-placed visitors did what they needed to do, exploiting Fylde’s weaknesses and effectively sealing victory by half-time, when they led 21-0. A late spell of Fylde pressure hinted at what might have been.
Ampthill took the game by the scruff of the neck early on. They dominated possession and pushed Fylde well back into their own half.
The pressure told in the ninth minute when, after a number of drives by the forwards, fly-half Josh Sharp skipped through some ineffective tackling to score near the posts. Fullback James Pritchard converted.
Fylde made occasional inroads into Ampthill’s half but these were characterised by knock-ons, turnovers or conceded penalties.
By the beginning of the second quarter the visitors were back in Fylde’s half. Scrummages were becoming a pressing problem for the home side as the referee repeatedly penalised them.
As these penalties mounted up, a driving maul resulted in Ampthill flanker Joe Bercis claiming the touchdown on 22 minutes and Pritchard’s conversion doubled the lead to 14-0.
Fylde tried to battle back, led by the ever-eager number eight David Fairbrother, but were unconvincing.
In the 35th minute, they were back defending their line grimly after coughing up possession on halfway.
Fylde lock Matt Garrod was sent to the sinbin for an infringement at a ruck, and from the penalty and lineout Ampthill’s top tryscorer Sam Baker plunged over from close range. Pritchard’s third goal completed their first-half scoring.
Fylde threw replacement lock Nick Ashcroft into the fray in place of Ben Vernon for the second half but the Fylde scrum was soon under pressure again.
Adam Lewis replaced Mark Irving but two collapsed scrums later and he was trotting back to the sin bin.
Again Ampthill capitalised on the one-man advantage as Syd Blackmore claimed the touchdown and the bonus point from the driving maul. Pritchard’s kick went wide but was never likely to make a difference.
Fylde stepped up their efforts, exerting sustained pressure inside the Ampthill half for the first time.
Fylde winger Henry Hadfield made a couple of bullocking runs, then Tom Carleton and Connor Wilkinson combined well down the left to threaten the visitors’ line. The move was stopped illegally and Pritchard was shown a yellow card.
Fylde continued to press in a bid to exploit their numerical advantage, though a grubber kick from fly-half Greg Smith behind the Ampthill defence just eluded Wilkinson in the in-goal area.
Another penalty was conceded by the visitors, and from the kick to the corner and subsequent line-out it was Fylde’s turn to drive over as replacement hooker Ben Gregory scored. Smith took the conversion hastily but fired wide.
Fylde continued to attack but it was to prove too little, too late as Fylde now find themselves nine points adrift at the bottom and 19 from safety.
Head coach Warren Spragg said: “If you concede as many penalties as we did in the first half against Ampthill then the result will be entirely predictable.
“It’s all very well upping our game in the last 15 minutes but our discipline has to be better overall. Our defence was generally good but we made too many mistakes.”
Fylde: Dolly, Hadfield, Wilkinson, Fowden, Carleton; Smith, Nicholls (Foster 74); Richardson, Burtonwood (Gregory 70), Irving (Lewis 41), Garrod, Corrie, Vernon (Ashcroft 41), Hopwood, Fairbrother; unused replacement: Parkinson.