Fleet 2-1 AFC Fylde

The Fleet picked a good time to earn a first win over AFC Fylde as Ben Chapman’s brace put a distance between his side and the bottom four places.

There were two changes for the Fleet, Tommy Fogarty back in with Dominic Poleon replacing the injured Dom Samuel, while Darren McQueen also made way.

Both sides took the opening 10 minutes to settle into a match that had a must-win element about it. The Fleet grabbed the first chance when Billy Clifford dragged a cross towards the goal line where no Fleet player could arrive in time to convert. Clifford then shot from distance with a low long-range effort that went just wide.

The deadlock was broken just past the quarter-hour mark, a darting run from Poleon behind the defence allowing him to pick out the run of Chapman down the right. Poleon played the ball across the width of the pitch where Chapman arrived to unleash a thunderous effort past Theo Richardson, a cracking goal to open the scoring at the Kuflink Stadium. 

The chances continued. Poleon almost instantly doubled the scoreline when he battled his way through Harry Davis but it was a difficult shot and Richardson saved. And the same angle for Chapman as his opener saw a second chance for the goalscorer flash just wide. 

Fylde – without top scorer Nick Haughton – didn’t create much but their first attack was denied by superb defending from Bryant Bilongo who got an important foot in on Jon Ustabasi with Mark Cousins gettng back to his feet. A free kick minutes later from a good position was sent straight into the gloves of Cousins.

And the visitors had the first chance of the second-half as well. Young forward Danny Ormerod’s leaping header was narrowly off target. 

A second of the afternoon for Chapman would arrive in the 53rd minute. A perfectly executed long ball from the superb Billy Clifford dropped in between goalkeeper Richardson and Chapman but the Fleet’s 22 timed his action perfectly, to head the ball past the Fylde keeper with enough power to send it beyond the defenders running back to cover.

Rakish Bingham could have claimed a third but he couldn’t keep his effort down and steered that over the bar. A scramble at the far post then saw Poleon scuff an effort marginally wide.

A huge opportunity came for Clifford with under 10 minutes to go as a Bingham pass arrived at his feet from a central position and he did everything right but slipped the ball the wrong side of the post as Richardson came out. 

Fleet might have regretted that as Fylde grabbed a goal back out of the blue in the 85th minute through young substitute Gerry McCullion who slotted the ball home from close range after Fleet hesitated along the byline.

The visitors suddenly had a new energy after having been anonymous as an attacking force after the break and it made for a nervous few minutes but they didn’t help themselves when skipper Davis was issued a straight red card for a stamp on substitute Craig Tanner in the far corner.

Referee James Durkin continued to play on past the minimum added time but the Fleet held out to reach 52 points.

EUFC: Cousins, Kenlock, Fogarty, Skura, Bilongo, Chapman (Cundle 78), Wright, Clifford, Edser (Tanner 81), Bingham, Poleon (McQueen 68). Subs: Domi, Fanimo
AFCF: Richardson, Davies, Long, Barrett, Utabasi, Walker (Hunter 60), Conway, Whitehead (Evans 87), Adshead (McCullion 80), Ormerod, Mitchell. Subs: Graham, Holder
Attendance: 1,642 (36 away)

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