AFC Fylde’s youngsters made it to the First Round Proper of the FA Youth Cup for only the second time in the club’s history thanks to a fantastic 4-1 victory over Irlam on Monday night.
Goals from Ryan Charnley, Joey Mullen (2) and Dean Ing secured a memorable win over a decent Irlam side who were in it right until the final minute when Ing secured the win and moved The Coasters three goals clear.
The score line suggests a more one-sided encounter than what was actually ensued at Kellamergh Park as the visitors were kept at bay thanks to countless saves from goalkeeper Lee Squires, and it was only a wonder-strike from Cameron Williams that could beat him midway through the second half – but the score already read 3-0 to The Coasters at that point.
Fylde struck their first goal inside seven minutes when Ryan Charnley netted his fifth of the competition after a mazy run along the by-line and was aided by a little bit of luck as his shot hit the post only to rebound over the line off the back of goalkeeper Jake Aldred’s head.
But unlike in the previous rounds, a quick second couldn’t be found and Irlam who won through to this stage after beating Chester’s Academy 5-3 in the previous round, piled on the pressure as they went in search of an equaliser.
Cameron Williams struck the post with a fine volley from the edge of Fylde’s box, Isaac Illidge forced the first of a string of fine saves from Squires and Connor Martin fired narrowly wide of the post within minutes.
Fylde could have doubled their lead on the half hour when Jake Higham’s effort was well saved only for the rebound to ricochet off Mullen and go wide.
Squires pulled off no less than three more excellent stops to keep his side in the lead late in the half – denying Martin and Illidge before John Main’s pin-point strike was turned around the post.
But with three minutes of the half remaining, Fylde found some breathing space when Mullen struck his first of the night – hammering the rebound into the back of Irlam’s net after Cory Bent was denied by Aldred.
That set-back certainly didn’t blow the wind out of the visitors’ sails as they continued to press forward, searching for a way back into the game. And within seconds of the restart Zar Jordan blasted an angled strike at goal which was tipped inches wide by the on-form Squires.
After a brief lull in the action, the game burst into life once more with two goals in five minutes just after the hour.
Mullen bagged his second with a low strike from just inside the Irlam box, but the visitors were back in it when Cameron Williams’ long-range shot had Squires well beaten.
Bent was unlucky not to put the game to bed with 20 minutes to go as he had a shot cleared off the line but it was Fylde who had their backs to the wall in the final minutes as Irlam tried to find a way back into the game.
And they thought they had pulled it back to a one goal deficit on 85 minutes but Williams’ cheeky flick just six yards out went inches wide of the left hand post.
But it wasn’t to be Irlam’s night as, against the run of play, Fylde broke and it was centre back Ing who fired home the final goal and secure a place in next month’s First Round Proper for The Coasters.
Speaking of his side’s victory, Manager Stewart Clitheroe spoke of a tough encounter saying: “We went in 2-0 up against the run of play really and it was Lee who was keeping us in it. Some days you do need your keeper to be on form and today was his day.
“But you’ve seen the threat we have going forward. Even when we have our backs against the wall we have our forward players who can change a game and do it quite quickly and they’ve shown this season that they’ll score against anyone.”
In terms of the opposition Stewart added: “Irlam are a team that we knew well as we’ve seen them play a few times but tonight they’ve come here and made a good show of themselves and were unlucky really to be going in 2-0 down at half time. They had some really good players and we rode our luck in the first half but nullified their threat in the second I think.”
Fylde will welcome Newcastle Benfield’s U18’s to Kellamergh Park in the next round for what will be their fourth home tie in this season’s competition.
AFC Fylde: Squires, J. Anderson, B. Anderson, Ing, Young, Rowe, Bent (Forshaw 74), Mullen (C) (Crook (67), Charnley, Brown (Futter 55), Higham; Subs not used: Corbett, Robinson.
GOALS: Ryan Charnley (7), Joey Mullen (42, 63), Dean Ing (89)
Irlam: Aldred, Bolton, Murphey (Gilbraith 63), Cassell, Southern, Nixon, Jordan (Warburton 65), Illidge (Orrell 82), Martin, Main, Williams; Subs not used: McCann, Main-Quinn.
GOAL: Cameron Williams (68)
YELLOW: Sam Bolton (59), Rourke Murphey (62), Kyle Gilbraith (87)
MOM: Lee Squires (AFC Fylde)