AFC Fylde continued their preparations for the new campaign with an impressive performance and result against local Northern Premier League side Bamber Bridge on Tuesday evening.
The Sir Tom Finney Stadium played host to an entertaining pre-season friendly, where The Coasters ran out 3-0 victors. Nick Haughton opened the scoring from the penalty spot before Sam Osborne and Jordan Hulme added further goals after the break.
Jim Bentley made four changes to the starting eleven from the 1-1 draw against Warrington Rylands on Saturday, with Chris Neal, Luke Conlan, Harvey Gregson and Nick Haughton all handed starts.
Two former Fylde players were named on the Brig team sheet, as defender Macauley Wilson captained the team and winger Mark Yeates was on the bench.
The Coasters were first to threaten when Bamber Bridge failed to stop Hulme from gliding through the centre of the defence, but the striker sent his low drive wide of the post.
Bentley’s men were almost rewarded for their bright start when captain Alex Whitmore met a Nick Haughton corner, only to see his downward header turned around the post by goalkeeper Alex Cameron.
The visitors kept on attacking with Nathan Shaw seeing a low effort well saved by Cameron and a powerful Haughton shot flying over the bar.
Chris Neal was called into action on 20 minutes, as he got down well to prevent Isaac Sinclair from breaking the deadlock.
Sinclair was at it again moments later, this time coming whiskers away from beating Neal. Some good work by the winger created space for him to pull the trigger, but his drive clipped the top of the crossbar, to the relief of the Fylde faithful.
The opening goal arrived a minute before half-time, and the hosts were visibly frustrated with how it was conceded. A sloppy back pass to Cameron wasn’t dealt with properly, and Hulme nipped in before being brought down by the goalkeeper for a penalty kick. Haughton stepped up to confidently convert, despite the best efforts of the outstretched Cameron.
HT – Bamber Bridge 0-1 AFC Fylde
Young midfielder Harvey Gregson was presented with a glorious chance early in the second, but his glancing header failed to trouble the goalkeeper.
Osborne had a weak effort comfortably collected by the goalkeeper shortly after, but the winger would soon find himself on the scoresheet as he doubled his side’s lead in the 51st minute.
Some pinball in the Brig box ended with an unmarked Osborne latching onto a loose ball, and after seeing his initial effort blocked, he beat Cameron with a low finish.
Osborne went close to grabbing his second after showing some neat footwork, before Dobbie almost nipped in to make it three but Cameron somehow managed to get a hand to the ball to prevent the forward from rounding him.
Substitute Bobby Jones had to be on his toes to stop former Coaster Mark Yeates from scoring with 15 minutes to play, getting down to his low drive from just inside the penalty area.
Despite Brigs’ best efforts to get back into the game, a third goal came the Coasters’ way in the 78th minute and it came from a pinpoint cross from a trialist left-back.
The defender’s driving run and cross found the head of a moving Jordan Hulme in the six-yard box, and the striker made no mistake with his near-post header.
In the closing stages, Stephen Dobbie went close to beating Cameron after some good work by Owen Robinson.
Hulme continued to lead the line and press for more goals, and it was he who should have grabbed his second moments before the full-time whistle. Tenacious work by Luke Burke saw him beat a man and square to an unmarked Hulme, but Cameron managed to get across to block his goal bound effort from three yards out.
It was a professional display by Jim Bentley’s side, as they now look forward to completing their pre-season schedule in Saturday’s home game against Halifax Town.
FT: Bamber Bridge 0-3 AFC Fylde
AFC FYLDE: Chris Neal (45’), Luke Burke, Liam Nolan, Alex Whitmore (C)(60’), Sam Osborne, Luke Joyce (70’), Harvey Gregson (90’), Nathan Shaw (60’), Nick Haughton (60’), Jordan Hulme.
SUBS: Bobby Jones (45’), Ben Tollitt (90’), Danny Philliskirk (70’), Jack Byrne (60’), Stephen Dobbie (60’), Owen Robinson (60’), Trialist (45’).