AFC Fylde warmed up for their huge FA Cup tie at Millwall with a five-star performance against Stalybridge Celtic.

There were no frights for Dave Challinor’s side as goals from Matty Hughes, Dion Charles, Danny Rowe (2) and Danny Lloyd sealed a 5-0 victory and ensured the Coasters remain top of the National League North table.

Manager Challinor made just one change to the side that beat Barrow AFC last time out with Ben Hinchliffe replacing Matt Urwin in goal.

The first chance of the match came inside the first minute and it was a gem for the hosts. Charles raced down the right and delivered a pinpoint cross for Rowe, who was thwarted by a great save from Tony McMillan.

A minute later and it was left-back Alex Whittle who popped up in the Stalybridge area, but his fierce effort was matched by McMillan.

The deadlock was broken after 13 minutes and it was a deserved opener for the Coasters. Matt Blinkhorn held off two challenges in the box before squaring for Hughes to fire home from 15 yards.

Former Coaster Aiden Chippendale had the first chance for the visitors, but his header could only find the side-netting.

After a quiet spell, Stalybridge midfielder Dale Wright had the next chance of note when his deflected free-kick from fully 30 yards flashed wide of the post.

Stalybridge enjoyed a spell of pressure and, after a melee in the box, captain Matt Hughes lashed his shot narrowly over the bar.

The visitors were getting closer and closer to an equaliser and it almost came on 34 minutes when Hughes’ glancing header from a corner hit the post.

Fylde hit back with a chance of their own moments later when Charles turned terrifically on the edge of the box, only to watch his powerful effort deflect wide of the far post.

The wideman wasn’t to be denied for much longer and on 39 minutes the lead was doubled. Hughes released Charles down the right and he raced into the area before slotting past McMillan.

Celtic almost pulled one back on the stroke of half-time, but Chris Simm smashed his header against the underside of the bar.

The host kicked off the second period at lightening pace, first with Blinkhorn having an effort saved before Hughes was also kept out by the goalkeeper.

The third goal arrived on 50 minutes when Blinkhorn played in strike partner Rowe, who took a touch before lifting the ball over the advancing McMillan.

Stalybridge fashioned a rare second-half chance on 62 minutes after some neat interplay saw substitute Amour Lingouba in on goal, but his strike was comfortable for Hinchliffe.

The lead was very nearly four on 66 minutes when Rowe stung the palms of McMillan with a piledriver from 30 yards.

The fourth did arrive on 76 minutes. Substitute Danny Lloyd delivered a telling cross from the right and Rowe ghosted in at the back post for his second of the afternoon.

James Hardy, introduced from the bench, went close five minutes from time when he danced into the area, but his low shot was inches wide.

The scoring was complete with two minutes to play. Hardy released Lloyd on the halfway line and he raced clear and smashed a clinical strike into the far corner.


AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes, Hannigan, Collins, Whittle, Baker, Wilson, Charles (Lloyd 68), M. Hughes (Hardy 73), Rowe, Blinkhorn.

Subs not used: Urwin, Sumner, Barnes.

Stalybridge Celtic: McMillan, Wylie, Crowley, Hughes, Higgins, Wright, McKenna, Mudimu (Osei 46), Simm, Farrell, Chippendale (Lingouba 59).

Subs not used: Johnson, Tames, Chalmers.

Att: 472