Another solid performance saw The Coasters pick up another trophy for their collection by beating Skelmersdale United 1-0 in the Doodson Cup Final courtesy of a Harry Winter header. It took 34 minutes to find the winning goal for Fylde, who got through to the end of the game comfortably in the end despite heavy pressure from Skelmersdale, who didn’t use their pressure or possession well enough to trouble Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal.
On the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, in which a minute’s silence was perfectly observed in this game, Fylde showed that you don’t have to play extremely well to win a game, or in this case, a cup. The cup win was a very good way of extending The Coasters unbeaten run to 22 games, which is a phenomenal achievement.
It all started quite well for The Coasters, when inside the first minute Sean Cooke, who was at the centre of most things going forward, had an early attempt that stung the hands of Zac Hibbert in the Skelmersdale goal and it proved to be a sign of things to come from The Coasters who were both defensively solid and always a threat on the counter attack throughout the game.
Sean Miller probably had the best of the attempts for Skelmersdale in both halves, but none of his shots really troubled the ever impressive Hinchliffe in the AFC Fylde net. Cooke then went close, with a deflected shot going just over the bar and after 15 minutes it was a wide open contest.
In fact, the opening half an hour was largely a midfield battle which was probably won by the midfield trio for Fylde of Brad Barnes, Joe Booth and Harry Winter, whose goal it was that won the match.
The goal came after 34 minutes and The Coasters never looked back, or settled for their lead. A cross in from the right hand side of the box was enough for Harry Winter to slam home a powerful header past a despairing Hibbert and into the back of the net, crushing Danny Lloyd nearly in two in the process. Luckily for Lloyd, he was fine and played the whole 90 minutes, looking impressive when running with the ball.
Boss Dave Challinor said that he was just ‘happy to win’ and that ‘it was important to keep the run going’ after seeing his side extend their unbeaten run to 22 games. He added’ We played okay but not amazingly well. We made changes with eye on Wednesday’s home game with Blyth but the boys I picked today were superb and we won the game and the cup which is all that matters.
The central defensive pairing of Josh Langley and Andy Russell have been impressive of late and they helped Fylde to keep another clean sheet, throwing their bodies on the line to block shots from Jackson, Miller and Morning when he came on in the second half.
Skelmersdale probably had the better of the play in the second half but ultimately their failure to score an equalizer, or even get a shot on target, was their downfall on this sunny but cold Spring Sunday afternoon.
Substitute Michael Barnes did excellently down the wings in the last 20 minutes or so after coming on as the first sub for The Coasters and was unlucky not to add to the lead. His shot with just 5 minutes on the clock remaining would have made it more comfortable for Fylde, but in the end it didn’t matter.
There was still time for a huge chance for Sean Miller of Skelmersdale, who ran through on the Fylde goal but his effort went wide of Hinchliffe’s goal and it wasn’t troubling at all, much like all of Skelmersdale’s shots during the rest of the game.
But ultimately, The Coasters hung on to record their second cup win of the season after their Lancashire F.A Cup win against Chorley in March, and you wouldn’t bet against them having a very good chance of winning the play-offs if they can maintain this amazing end of season form. Challinor said he was ‘hopeful to win all 4 of the last games this season’ and he is ‘aiming to win the league but will see how other results pan out’.
Come on you Coasters!
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes, Sumner (75), Langley, Russell, B. Barnes, Booth (69), Cooke, Winter, Noon (71), Lloyd; Subs: M. Barnes (69), Mullen, Gregory (75), Allen, Blinkhorn (71).