AFC Fylde left it late to claim all three points in part two of the local derby against Chorley after Alex Whitmore headed in at the death to secure a 1-0 win at Victory Park and get the Coasters’ 2023 off to a flyer.

Following an afternoon of very few clear-cut chances, the one that mattered came via captain Whitmore, who climbed above everyone to head Nick Haughton’s free-kick back across goal and into the far corner of the net.

Adam Murray made three changes from the Boxing Day fixture, with Luke Conlan, Danny Whitehead & Mo Faal replacing Pierce Bird (illness), Nick Haughton & Luke Charman.

A quiet opening ten minutes eventually led to the first chance of the game for the Coasters when a long ball upfield was plucked out of the sky by Siya Ligendza, who then drifted inside and struck wide from 25 yards out.

Despite the game going through quiet stages, Fylde almost had the opener after Jordan Cranston’s corner was met by the head of Emeka Obi at the back post, who evaded the glove of Matt Urwin before seeing the ball cleared off the line.

Chorley’s first sighter came courtesy of Billy Whitehouse from distance, but Chris Neal was able to watch the ball safely into his clutches.

There was time for one last bit of rare goalmouth action in the first half when Cranston whipped a first-time cross to the back post and towards Mo Faal, who rose highest to head inches over Urwin’s bar.

Half-Time: Chorley FC 0-0 AFC Fylde

Following the restart and three minutes into the half, Whitehouse capitalised on a loose pass from Luke Conlan to burst forward and eventually set Ollie Shenton on the edge of the area, whose low-driven shot was collected by Neal.

The Coasters seemed to be playing with a much-higher tempo, which brought Danny Whitehead into the game on the right, allowing him to cut in and cross towards Faal, who powerfully ran onto the ball but headed into the hands of Urwin.

Fylde were pressing for the deciding goal, and they almost had it when Luke Conlan’s cross to the back post found Faal again, who this time took the ball down nicely and saw his effort at goal deflect off a Chorley shirt and loop behind for a corner. Emeka Obi’s header from the resulting corner fell wide of the post.

However, for all of Fylde’s pressure, the winner arrived with just minutes left on the clock.

Haughton picked himself up after being fouled to float a free-kick deep to the back post and onto the head of Whitmore. He managed to wrestle free and thump a header back across goal and into the bottom right corner to give Adam Murray’s side the perfect start to 2023.

Full-Time: Chorley FC 0-1 AFC Fylde

Chorley FC: Urwin, Henley, Wilson, Leather, Nolan, Whitehouse, Calveley, Ustabasi, Shenton (77’ Tomlinson), Blakeman (90+2’ Johnson), Hall (84’ Owens).

Unused Subs: Smith, Scarborough.

AFC Fylde: Neal, Obi, Whitmore, Conlan, Cranston (68’ Haughton), Barrett, Hatfield, Philliskirk, Whitehead (77’ Rowley), Faal, Ligendza (68’ Charman).

Unused subs: Burke, Morrison.