AFC Fylde earned a comfortable victory at AFC Telford United on Saturday afternoon, to maintain their perfect start to the new year.
A goal in each half from Jordan Hulme and Jack Sampson proved the difference as the win took The Coasters up to third in the National League North.
Nick Chadwick named an unchanged side for the visit to the New Buck Head stadium, sticking with the starting eleven that defeated Chorley 4-0 last weekend. Nick Haughton returned to the bench after recovering from a hamstring tear, alongside new signing Sam Osborne who arrived for an undisclosed fee from Leamington on Saturday morning.
Meanwhile, there were some recognisable names in the host’s starting line-up, with Russ Griffiths, Andy Bond and James Hardy, all enjoying spells at Fylde in recent years.
The game began in scrappy fashion, with both sides trying to build from the back but struggling to maintain possession. However, Nick Chadwick’s side quickly found their rhythm, going on to dominate the majority of proceedings.
The first notable chance of the game fell the way of Jack Sampson, who rose highest to meet a Luke Conlan free-kick but Griffiths managed to get across and tip over his crossbar.
Ben Tollitt was then gifted the chance to put the visitors ahead, but last weekend’s hat-trick hero sliced his effort well wide of the mark.
Fylde now had Telford on the back-foot; their off-the-ball movement and free-flowing attacks proving too much for The Bucks defence.
Hulme latched onto a clever pass by Shaw after some patient play, striking low towards the bottom corner which Griffiths did well to stop.
Whitmore saw a penalty-claim waved away by the referee, before Hulme broke the deadlock.
You sensed the goal was coming for Fylde, and Hulme stepped up to provide it. It was Sampson who was at the heart of it, holding off his man and laying the ball onto Tollitt who hugged the touchline. The winger beat his man and fired a cross into the box, which Hulme collected, turned and fired an unstoppable drive into the bottom corner from eight-yards out.
The visitors had their tails up and were hungry for more goals before the interval, but Hulme and Tollitt’s efforts failed to test the goalkeeper.
HT: AFC Telford 0-1 AFC Fylde
After the break, AFC Telford were much-improved, carving out numerous opportunities in the opening stages. Bond and McHale saw shots sail wide of Neal’s goal.
It was McHale who was handed Telford’s best chance of equalising, after he was clumsily brought down by Conlan in the penalty area.
The referee pointed to the spot, but the winger’s resulting penalty cannoned back off the base of the post and away to safety.
Moments later, the luckless Mchale fired a free-kick over the crossbar from range.
The penalty miss seemed to uplift The Coasters, and once again, they found a new gear. After several half-chances went astray, it took until the 78th minute for the second goal to finally arrive. Full back, Luke Burke, provided the goal with a brilliant ball across the six-yard box which Sampson somehow managed to flick into the bottom corner.
The goal marked his first in an AFC Fylde shirt, and put his side on their way to another important victory.
Nick Haughton and Sam Osborne came off the bench late on with the latter making his debut.
Both injected some life into a game that was fizzling to a conclusion, as Haughton struck an effort from a tight angle that demanded a save from the well-worked Griffiths.
The full-time whistle sounded, and the Fylde players punched the air to celebrate another impressive three points and clean sheet.
FT: AFC Telford 0-2 AFC Fylde