AFC Fylde 2-0 Alfreton Town
AFC Fylde regained their nine point lead at the top of the National League North with a gritty 2-0 victory over a resolute Alfreton Town.
It looked like it was to be another frustrating 90 minutes for the Coasters until second half strikes from Alfreton old boy Dan Bradley and Caspar Hughes sealed a crucial three points at Mill Farm.
Manager Dave Challinor was forced into two changes from the side that was beaten by Curzon Ashton at the weekend with Richie Baker and Steve Williams in for injured duo Josh Langley and Macauley Wilson.
The Coasters enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges with both Andy Bond and Danny Rowe having half chances, but nothing to test Fabian Spiess in the Alfreton goal.
The hosts were presented with a glorious opportunity in the 10th minute when Bradley crossed for the unmarked Brendon Daniels but the winger headed his effort into the ground and over the bar.
Daniels then almost turned provider when he whipped in a vicious first time cross from the left that glanced off the top of Rowe’s head and away to safety.
The Coasters continued their dominance as the half wore on and Bradley would have opened the scoring against his former club with a goalbound low shot had it not been for a fantastic save from Spiess.
Alfreton hit back with a chance of their own as Thomas Allan advanced down the left before letting fly with a ferocious strike that stung the palms of Rhys Taylor.
Adam Priestley had another great opening for the visitors when a cross from the left found him unmarked on the six yard line but he couldn’t capitalise and his weak attempt span wide.
After a lull in play, Hardy looked to make inroads with a dazzling run on the edge of the Alfreton box before playing in Daniels whose strike from 18 yards was deflected over the bar. Bradley lashed over from the resultant corner.
The visitors flew out of the traps after the break and really should have taken the lead when striker Paul Clayton raced clean through however Taylor was quickly off his line and Williams completed the clearance in the nick of time. Allan headed into the arms of Taylor shortly after as the Reds continued to press.
Rowe passed up a fantastic chance put his side ahead when he was played in by Hardy but he chose to cut back onto his left rather than shoot first time and an untimely slip saw the opportunity vanish.
Fylde had started to gasp a hold of the game on the hour mark and Bradley wasn’t far off with a dipping volley from 20 yards.
The Coasters finally made the break through with 20 minutes to play. Hardy played in Bradley on the halfway line and the front man charged forward on the counter at pace to the edge of the box and his eventual strike deflected off a defender to wrong foot the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Fylde had the wind in their sails and Rowe tested Spiess with a wicked free-kick from an impossible angle. Seconds later and the Coasters had a crucial second goal. Rowe played a corner out to Hughes and the midfielder picked out the top corner with a sublime strike from 30 yards.
Substitute Matty Hughes almost wrapped it up in the final minute of normal time but his first time effort from Bohan Dixon’s cross rifled over the bar.
AFC Fylde: Taylor, Baker, Collins, Williams, Kennedy, Bond, C. Hughes, Bradley, Hardy (Dixon 79), Daniels (M. Hughes 59), Rowe (Blinkhorn 86).
Subs not used: Thompson, Tasdemir
Alfreton: Speiss, Wilson, Heaton, Kennedy, McGowan, Shelton, Nyoni (Marshall 85), Monkhouse, Clayton (Smith 85), Allan (Westcarr 83), Priestley.
Subs not used: Gascoigne, Jordan
Ref: Darren Strain