The Coasters came away from their penultimate pre-season fixture with a 1-1 draw at Skelmersdale thanks to an eighty-second minute equalizer from the in-form Dion Charles.
AFC Fylde travelled to Skelmersdale United for their penultimate pre-season friendly in good spirits having won three of their six pre-season fixtures, looking to add a fourth to that that. However, a first half strike from a Skelmersdale midfielder on thirty-four minutes saw The Coasters trail at half-time. It took an eighty-second minute goal from Dion Charles – his fourth of pre-season – to bring the score level which meant Fylde picked up their third draw of pre-season.
The last time Fylde came to Skem, it was a sunny April afternoon and The Coasters came away with a crucial 5-0 victory on their way to winning promotion via the play-offs at the end of the 2013-14 season. This game, although a friendly, was a chance for Fylde to test themselves against a former promotion rival who have ambitions of promotion this season themselves.
The game itself was a scrappy affair and the weather wasn’t much better as the heavens were open for the entire duration of the first half, meaning the ball didn’t stay on the pitch for very long.
With limited chances to talk about, Skelmersdale had the better of the opening half an hour and seemed to keep possession better than The Coasters.
The best chance of the opening period fell to former Coasters forward Jamie Rainford as he was played in one on one with Fylde’s trialist goalkeeper and the former forced a good save out of the latter.
Moments later, Skelmersdale took the lead with a 25 yards piledriver from one of their midfielders on 34 minutes. Due to Skem not providing us with a list of player names and numbers for this game, the goalscorer shall remain anonymous. Never-the-less, the goal was a superb strike and on the balance of play, Skem deserved to score first.
The Coasters went about trying to get back into the game straight away and immediately went up the other and hit the post after Trialist B was played through one on one with the Skem keeper. Trialist B couldn’t find a way past the keeper as the ball rebounded off the post and was cleared to safety. Richie Allen had the ball in the back of the net for Fylde just before half time after being played through by Matt Blinkhorn but the offside flag went up to deny the Coasters forward the equalizer.
Into the second half and Dion Charles went on a mazy run straight from kick off and won a free-kick 20 yards out. Adam Sumner took it and forced a save out of the goalkeeper before Blinkhorn put the ball past the keeper into the net, but again the offside flag denied the Coasters a goal and denied Blinkhorn his first goal of pre-season.
Skem went close again to scoring a second, but their number 11 sliced his shot just wide of the target. Up the other end, Dion Charles fed Blinkhorn, who was impressive as the lone striker, and Blinkhorn won a corner. Josh Langley met the corner with a powerful header which nearly brought The Coasters level as he connected well but his header went just over.
The hour mark brought changes for Fylde as last seasons top scorer Danny Rowe was introduced, as was another Coasters youngster Sam Mangan. The subs didn’t bring much change in fortune as Skem carried on attacking and went close again through Rainford but the trialist goalkeeper for Fylde was more than equal to it. A minute later, the trialist keeper produced three fine saves to deny Skem forwards the chance to add a second. Trialist A kept out three attempts in under half a minute to keep the score 1-0 going into the final twenty-five minutes.
Dion Charles looked lively after coming on as a first half substitute and he did well to beat a couple of Skem defenders before dragging a shot well wide of the target. With fifteen minutes to go, The Coasters were still 1-0 down. Richie Allen then raced away down the left hand side and found Matt Blinkhorn with a brilliant cross but Blinkhorn couldn’t force his header into the back of the net as the ball nestled on the top of the Skem goal.
Then came the equalizer eight minutes from time as Dion Charles found his way past the Skelmersdale defence before beating a couple of men and firing past the onrushing goalkeeper. Charles was a menace throughout the game and deserved his goal to bring the game level.
With four minutes to go, Danny Rowe thought he had won it for The Coasters as he cut inside on his right foot and fired the ball towards the bottom corner of the Skelmersdale goal but the ball somehow ended up the other side of the post and wide when it looked like it was about to nestle in the corner of the goal.
Matt Blinkhorn went even closer to winning it for Fylde after being played in by Charles after good work from him down the right, but the keeper makes a good save to deny the forward and the resulting corner was dealt with.
Fylde will feel they could have won the game but with just one week to go until the start of the National North season, The Coasters squad is starting to take shape. The final pre-season game is this Tuesday evening at Kellamergh Park against Blackburn Rovers.
Coasters XI: Trialist A, Collins (70), Sumner (60), Langley, Hannigan, Barnes (c), Wilson (21), Trialist B (60) , Blinkhorn, Trialist C (70), Allen
Coasters Subs: Charles (21), Rowe (60), Gregory (70), Dawson (70), Mangan (60), M. Hughes, Dalton, Hinchliffe
Goal: Skem No6 (34) & Dion Charles (82)
HT: Skelmersdale 1-0 AFC Fylde
Attendance: Approx 100
Man of the Match: Brad Barnes