AFC Fylde’s youngsters made history when they made it through to the FA Youth Cup Second Round Proper for the first time in the club’s history thanks to a tight 2-1 victory over Newcastle Benfield.
On a cold, wet night at Kellamergh Park the pre-match rain looked like it may spoil the fun but thankfully the downpour relented minutes before kick-off and made way for a fast-paced, end-to-end encounter.
This game promised goals as both sides had scored 30 goals between them in six games and as in the three previous rounds it was Fylde who struck first with an early goal despite the visitors starting brightly.
Connor Brumwell and Ethan Tait wasted early chances before Regan Linney and Ryan Charnley did likewise for Fylde but it was man-of-the-match Cory Bent who showed excellent composure to beat the offside trap and fire first time past Sam Busby for an 11th minute lead.
However, less than two minutes later, no less than three chances went begging within seconds of each other for Benfield – two shots hit Lee Squires whilst one hit the post in a series of goal-mouth scrambles where the Fylde defence just couldn’t get out of their own six yard box.
And after Squires could only punch a clearance as far as Shane Jones at the edge of the box, Jones’ blistering strike cannoned back into play off the crossbar on 20 minutes.
Thankfully, Fylde survived that scare and went on to double their lead on 26 minutes – Busby could only palm his save into the path of Dean Ing who made no mistake from 10 yards and placed the ball into an empty net.
Fylde ended the half well and Bent was at it again later in the half and was unlucky to see one shot cleared off the line after comfortably rounded Busby only to be denied by a retreating defender.
The second half was a much tighter affair as Benfield came out in search of a lifeline whilst Fylde tried their best to kill the game off.
It was another bright start to the half and Busby kept his side in the game saving point-blank from Ing’s six yard strike off Bent’s cross just five minutes in.
And with an hour on the clock, it was Benfield who got their lifeline first when Jones’ fired home a rebound from 12 yards to pull the score line back to within one goal and all to play for.
Twelve minutes later Bent looked to have been brought down inside the box from a clumsy challenge but the referee controversially decided to book the Fylde winger for simulation rather than award a penalty.
This was another lifeline that Benfield almost capitalised upon but Squires pulled off a fine save to tip a looping header over his crossbar two minutes later.
Charnley almost continued his feat of scoring in every round when he sent a free kick curling towards the top corner only for Busby to palm it away for a corner and Jones saw one final effort saved by Squires six minutes from time.
The Youth Team will now welcome Chesterfield’s Academy to Kellamergh Park in the next round knowing they are just 90 minutes away from a potential glamour tie of their own.
AFC Fylde: Squires, J. Anderson (Corbett 90+2), B. Anderson, Ing (Futter 79), Young, Rowe, Linney, Mullen (C), Charnley, Williams, Bent (Higham 90); Subs not used: Crook, Forshaw.
GOALS: Cory Bent (11), Dean Ing (26)
YELLOW: Cory Bent (72)
Newcastle Benfield: Busby, Skidmore, Ives, Johnson (Rock 78), Walton, Mossetig, Tait, Olaleye (Manco 55), Tiplady, Jones, Brumwell (Walker 67); Subs not used: Hurley, McDine.
GOAL: Shane Jones (60)
MOM: Cory Bent