AFC Fylde moved to the top of the table thanks to a third consecutive win earned over a resilient Matlock Town side at Kellamergh Park on Saturday.
In a game which saw few clear cut chances created for either side, Matty Blinkhorn gave The Coasters the lead four minutes before the break before Harry Winter popped up to wrap up the victory within seconds of the restart.
Fylde dominated the play from the off but couldn’t grab a vital early goal which would open the floodgates as in the previous two outings – in fact it was Matlock’s Danny Holland who had the first attempt of the game within seconds of kick off but he shot straight at Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal, and then Michael Barnes missed an effort as Fylde raced straight up the other end for their first chance.
Some good possession around the visitor’s penalty area couldn’t be converted into chances as Barnes’ crosses and long range efforts from Danny Lloyd were constantly cleared or blocked by a solid Matlock defence but the next clear shot on goal came from Winter on 15 minutes, but he scuffed his shot well wide after being played through by Blinkhorn.
Fylde had two shouts for a free-kick waved away within moments as both Lloyd and Blinkhorn were bundled to the ground but the referee allowed play to continue – but it was in vein as Jack Dorney couldn’t keep his effort down and fired over on 27 minutes.
Soon after a deflected shot from Lloyd had Matlock keeper Jon Kennedy tracking back to catch the ball on his line before Lloyd fashioned another effort for himself which he sent narrowly wide from the edge of the box.
Playing the ball into the net certainly wasn’t working for Fylde this time and it was a stroke of luck which allowed Blinkhorn to open the scoring on 41 minutes – Kennedy jumped up to claim a high cross into his area but collided with his defender David Haggerty and the ball fell kindly to Blinkhorn who rolled it into the open net from five yards for his fifth goal of the season.
The home side knew another goal would surely kill off a Matlock side that offered little going forward and it came just as they kicked off the second period – a low cross across the face of the goal from Barnes was turned into the net by Winter, who himself can’t stop scoring with four this season already, from six yards out to put Fylde 2-0 up.
After that fiery start the game went into a lull for the next 20 minutes or so with only a half-chance falling for Blinkhorn on 65 minutes after Hankin and Barnes connected well together on the right to send a good cross into Matlock’s area.
Three minutes later, Lewis McMahon should have pulled one back for the visitors against the run of play but he could only send his shot wide of Fylde’s goal after some good movement allowed him to break into the box and shoot.
Fylde enjoyed a good ten minute spell towards the end but where they failed to add to their tally as Joe Booth headed wide, Jamie Rainford was inches away from tapping in a corner at the far post, Lloyd shot just wide of the post and Rainford then fired another attempt over the bar.
Challinor was delighted that his side recorded yet another victory, saying at full time: “We’re top of the league now and we’re there to be shot at if you like.
“I’m more concerned about taking each game as they come and taking it forward. People know what we’re about and know we want to try and be successful if we can so teams want to try and beat us so finding that level of consistency to keep us going was something we spoke about before the game.
“Matlock are a decent side and we knew they would come here and make it difficult for us. We dominated possession without really troubling them and I think we were back to making poor decisions in the final third and that obviously dictates how many opportunities you create and how many goals you score.
“I said at half time that the keeper’s only really had one save to make so we needed to improve on that in the second half and we started well and got the second goal but then, I think mentally, we just switched off a bit.”
Fylde now look ahead to visiting Nantwich Town on Tuesday night before Saturday’s FA Cup First Qualifying Round tie at Blyth Spartans.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hankin, Sumner, M. Hughes (C), Denson, C. Hughes, Dorney (Booth 70), Winter, Blinkhorn (Rainford 78), M. Barnes, Lloyd; Subs not used: Hare, Russell, Charnley.