AFC Fylde made it three wins out of three in 2023 in the National League North with a 2-1 win over Southport at Haig Avenue.

Luke Conlan gave the Coasters the lead just before the half-time break when he followed in on the rebound from close range to launch a left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

With neither team taking control in the second half, Southport got themselves level when Charlie Oliver’s deflected effort from the edge of the box found its way into the bottom corner.

In true Coasters style, they kept on fighting, and after Connor Barrett was brought down inside the area, Nick Haughton stepped up to fire home for the three points.

Adam Murray made two changes from the 5-0 win over Banbury United, with Pierce Bird & Will Hatfield replacing Jordan Cranston & Danny Whitehead.

Early in the game, Southport had the first effort on target when Connor Woods beat Pierce Bird down the right with a bit of skill to cross into the six-yard box and towards Connor Heath, whose header was gathered by Chris Neal.

As Fylde started to find their rhythm, Luke Charman managed to nod a long ball upfield from Neal into the path of Haughton, but as he took the shot on at the first time of asking, he dragged it wide.

Chances were few and far between in the opening 20 minutes – however, as Woods plucked a high ball down inside the area, Neal was there to meet him and keep a low shot out with a strong leg.

Fylde were still having moments of their own. As Haughton ventured forward, he was brought down just outside the area, which allowed the Fylde number 10 to step up to a free-kick but fire over the wall and wide.

With ten minutes to go until the break, Southport would have found the opener if it wasn’t for Fylde captain Alex Whitmore, who after a loose ball fell to Heath, threw his body in front of the shot to divert the ball behind.

However, on the stroke of half-time, Conlan had other ideas after Mo Faal’s header from Pierce Bird’s cross was blocked on the line, and the wing-back let rip from six yards out, smashing into the roof of the net.

Half-Time: Southport 0-1 AFC Fylde

Instantly after the restart, Southport worked an opening for themselves, which Woods should have done better with after he was allowed to run through the Coasters defence and strike freely at goal, but his timid effort rolled into Neal’s gloves.

No team really threatened as the clock ticked down, with the wind having a big effect on proceedings, but it was the home side that managed to level.

A corner whipped into the six-yard box was initially dealt with by the Coasters and headed out to the feet of Oliver, who took one touch on the edge of the box to shoot at goal and see his effort deflect off a white shirt and in.

With the search on for an instant equaliser, Luke Charman raced down the other end and was left free with Joe Rowley available at the far post, though his ball across the box evaded Rowley and skidded out for a throw-in.

Adam Murray’s men were pressing on, despite being pegged back by the home side, and that gifted a chance to Rowley after Haughton spread the play wide. The midfielder cut inside and curled towards the bottom corner, firing inches past the post.

The Coasters’ hearts were in their mouth, though, when Emeka Obi was unaware of what was behind him as he looked to pass back to Neal, allowing Jordan Archer to run free at goal, only to be denied by the on-rushing Neal, who produced a superb bit of goalkeeping.

However, with minutes left on the clock once again in a local derby, the drama was yet to unfold, as Connor Barrett was brought down inside the area, leaving the referee with no choice but to award a penalty.

As many Southport players attempted to put Nick Haughton off, the number ten shook the heckles off and stepped up to send McMillan the wrong and seal the three points.

Full-Time: Southport FC 1-2 AFC Fylde  

Southport FC: McMillan, Oliver, J.Doyle, C.Doyle, Anson, Woods, Archer, Heath (81’ Walton), Hmami, Bainbridge, Carberry (70’ Watson).

Unused subs: Goudie, Munro, Miles.

AFC Fylde: Neal, Obi, Whitmore, Bird (66’ Rowley), Barrett, Conlan, Hatfield (66’ Weston), Philliskirk, Haughton, Charman (85’ Whitehead), Faal.

Unused Subs: Morrison, Burke.