Two goals from Richie Allen and a hat-trick from Matty Blinkhorn saw AFC Fylde get back to winning ways and cement their place in the play-offs and all but seeing that they have a home tie in the semi-final. A sublime first half performance was the difference between a very strong AFC Fylde side and an extremely poor Skelmersdale side. It was a fantastic first half an hour for The Coasters which saw them bounce back after the defeat to Grantham on Saturday, but ultimately Fylde will have to settle for a play-off place after Chorley and FC United both won their respective games, meaning that The Coasters can no longer win the league title.
It took just eight minutes for The Coasters to break through the Skem defence, with Richie Allen finishing off a good move in which Danny Lloyd was the catalyst, driving down the wing to put in a cross for Allen to tap in from close range. It was the first real chance in the game but Allen finished it off well.
Then it was time for the Matty Blinkhorn show, and what a show it was. A superb hat-trick from the forward who has had a brilliant season, a real catalyst in The Coasters good form in the last 3/4 months. His first came after 21 minutes when he got on the end of a loose ball in the box to fire home Fylde’s second on the day. Coasters gaffer Dave Challinor said of Blinkhorn, ‘Blinks has done really well all season, deserved his goals today. His general play all season has been very good and it’s paying off now with the goals he’s scored of late’.
Fylde’s third, and his second of the game came just two minutes later when a corner from the left hand side came in and the striker powered a header past the despairing Zac Hibbert in the Skelmersdale goal. He sealed his third goal and Fylde’s fourth of the afternoon when he tapped home from another loose ball in the Skem penalty area. Skem’s defending was woeful all afternoon and Fylde certainly took advantage of it.
Skelmersdale did have quite a few attempts during the game but none of them really troubled Coasters keeper Ben Hinchliffe, most of them going wide or over the bar. Fylde got their fifth when Allen grabbed his second of the game from the penalty spot after 73 minutes. Sean Cooke’s mazy run resulted in him being brought down and Allen sent Hibbert the wrong way to add to The Coasters impressive display against a Skem team that had looked like promotion candidates just 2 months ago.
This was the second match in 8 days between these two teams and turned out to have a large implication on what AFC Fylde’s end of season schedule will look like, with the play-off picture shaping up quite nicely. The Coasters are pretty much guaranteed a home leg in the semi-final, probably to be against Worksop after they could only take a point away from Ilkeston. It will be a fascinating semi-final contest between two free scoring teams and it promises to be a great occasion for both teams.
Challinor said of the match, ‘On paper it was a difficult game but we started really well, scored goals early which killed the game and it was important not to become complacent in the second half’. He added, ‘All we can do is win our game on Saturday and see what happens. We are quite happy with a 3rd place finish if it happens to be that way. Hopefully the lads who picked up a knock today will be fine for the Kings Lynn game, but if not then I’m not afraid of going with the likes of Joe Mullen or Jake Gregory.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hankin, Sumner, Langley, Russell, Booth, Cooke, Winter (46), Blinkhorn (67), Allen, Lloyd (83); Subs: Gregory, C. Hughes, Noon (67) Charnley (83), Mullen (46).