Connor Mcbride’s second-half strike was the difference between AFC Fylde and Championship outfit Blackburn Rovers on Saturday afternoon, as football fans returned to Mill Farm Stadium for the Luke Bennett Celebration Fixture.
With fifteen minutes to play, Mcbride latched onto a loose ball and curled home the only goal of the game, to give Mowbray’s men the victory in what was an even contest throughout.
As he did at Squires Gate on Tuesday evening, Jim Bentley made mass changes at half-time, providing the full squad with valuable minutes in the run up to the new campaign.
After kicking off their pre-season campaign with a convincing 4-0 victory at Gate, The Coasters held firm for the first half against their Championship opponents and limited them to very few chances.
Experienced midfielder Bradley Johnson registered Rovers’ first attempt at goal, meeting Dan Pike’s cross and firing a deflected shot into the arms of Chris Neal.
On the 11th minute, both sets of supporters, players, and staff, paused to partake in an emotional applause to pay tribute to the life of Luke Bennett.
It took until the 25th minute for the first real opening to arrive, and it came the way of former Coaster and current Rovers winger, Luke Brennan, who was gifted a glorious opportunity to fire his team into the lead from six yards out. His low effort was saved well by the feet of Neal.
Harry Chapman was the danger man for Rovers, and it was he who had the final effort before the half drew to a goalless end. The tricky winger’s long-range free-kick was smothered by the well-worked Neal.
HT – AFC Fylde 0 – 0 Blackburn Rovers
A new-look Coasters XI returned for the second half, while Tony Mowbray also made a multitude of changes.
It was Nick Haughton’s effort that almost lifted the roof off Mill Farm early in the second half, as his long-range free-kick rattled the outside of the post before rolling out for a goal-kick. Blackburn’s Durrant then tried his luck from a free kick, but Neal watched it travel wide of his near post.
The game’s only goal arrived in the 75th minute, and it was Connor Mcbride who grabbed it. Rovers’ Dan Butterworth pulled the ball back from the byline, which Mcbride pounced on and curled into the far corner, to the delight of the traveling fans.
Fylde began to push more bodies forward in search of a late equaliser, leaving space for the visitors to counter-attack. Second-half captain, Lewis Travis was the creator, winning the ball in midfield before freeing Jack Vale, who strode forward and fizzed an effort just wide of the post.
An AFC Fylde trialist was handed the final chance of the match, weaving his way through to the edge of the eighteen-yard box, before blazing an effort over the crossbar, when he was positioned to do slightly better.
The full-time whistle drew the Luke Bennett Celebration fixture to a close, and it was a defeat for The Coasters – but the afternoon was much more than just a football match, it was a chance for both sets of supporters to come together, return to the terraces, and pay tribute to the life of a kind-hearted young man who we lost too early.
FT – AFC Fylde 0 – 1 Blackburn Rovers
AFC Fylde First Half Team – Neal, Burke, Obi, Whitmore, Conlan, Philliskirk, Joyce, Shaw, Haughton, Tollitt, Hulme
AFC Fylde Second Half Team – Jones, Trialist, Nolan, Whitmore, Conlan, Trialist, Philliskirk, Perkins, Osborne, Haughton, Hulme
SUBS – Sampson (61’), Robinson (61’), H.Jones (85) , Byrne (81’), Gregson (77’)