Sunday, 5 October 2014

Fylde Under Par But They Win Again

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Saturday 4 October 2014 at Kellamergh Park
AFC Fylde 1 North Ferriby United 0
Conference North (Step 2)
Ground 550, and one of the two grounds I need to visit of teams promoted to Step 2 last season.  Chorley is the other, and I will be there soonish to re-complete “The 160” grounds from Premiership to Step 2 inclusive, except that it is 158 at the moment because of groundsharing by Worcester City and Gloucester City.  I am here rather than Chorley today because of a randomish event at Bamber Bridge, which is roughly midway between Chorley and Fylde.  Preston Ladies were playing Blackburn Ladies.  If they had scored an odd number of goals I would have been going to Chorley.  As it is, they scored nil, which is not an odd number, even though you might argue whether it is a number at all.  On balance, mathematically speaking, it’s even, so Fylde it is.

The ground has an unusual entrance – you drive through the car park of the Birley Arms to get there.
Pre-match preparation
Both teams have an eye on promotion.  AFC Fylde lead the division by two points although Barrow have a game in hand.  North Ferriby United are only three points outside the playoff spots, but it is still relatively early in the season.  Fylde have won six league games in a row and most recently have beaten Bradford PA in a replay to stay in the FA Cup.  North Ferriby are also still in the Cup, a win over Cleethorpes ending a winless league streak lasting the whole of September. They are eighth in the league table.

Like near neighbours Fleetwood, now of League Two, Fylde have shaken up the local pecking order with their ambitions of full Football League status.  Blackpool, after a difficult managerial and administrative start to their season, played Cardiff on Friday night and Fylde are offering reduced price entry to their season ticket holders today.  Competition on and off the field round here, then.
This match in one sentence
Fylde nicked a goal in a tight but uninspiring game, while North Ferriby did nothing much wrong except for missing their chances.
So what?
AFC Fylde stay top of the division. North Ferriby remain mid-table.
The drama unfolds
Much of the first half was interesting and impressive rather than exciting and inspirational.  Some would say dull.  Two well-organised teams largely cancelled each other out in midfield and there were few clear chances.  Here’s the traditional scene-setter clip.  Fylde are in white.

The only goal of the game came from a break from halfway by Richie Allen down the left wing.  North Ferriby keeper Adam Nicklin got a hand to the low cross-shot but could only push it out for a tap-in for Danny Rowe.  1-0 after 36 mins and at half-time

North Ferriby’s striker Tom Denton featured heavily in the visitors’ second-half attempts to draw level.  He used his height to good advantage.  First, he saw Ben Hinchcliffe leap superbly to push away his header in the first minute after the restart.  With sunshine and showers and one of the best rainbows for several seasons, North Ferriby kept up the pressure.  Here’s a clip.

Fylde nearly added a second through Hinchcliffe and Allen from the proverbial route one.  Tom Hannigan caught the eye in the home defence with a couple of timely interventions and blocks.  Denton headed just wide at the far post from a corner with ten minutes to go, and then another header hit the post with a minute of normal time left.  It so nearly went in off Hinchcliffe.  To be honest, a draw would have been a fair result – there was actually very little to choose between these two teams, and the second half had been more entertaining for the passing neutral.  Final score 1-0
Ground Pix

Trophy on display in the directors' box
Match Pix

Something You Don’t Get in the Premier League
Simultaneous sheep and double rainbows.  There were cows in the next field too, but they declined to have their picture taken.

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
THIS orange-and-grey monstrosity from North Ferriby's Adam Nicklin has messed up my spreadsheet.  It’s not orange.  It’s not grey.  Plus, it lost.  Whereas the nice safe traditional green of Fylde won the points and gained a clean sheet.  Updated and adapted table to follow before the end of the month.

Soapbox Section
AFC Fylde would like to build a new ground but there is nothing definite as yet.  I may have to go back there one day!  Everything about this club makes an impact from the moment you arrive.  The banners, the signage, the tidiness, the quality of the programme production, the self-service “gourmet coffee machine”.  All are among the best I have seen in non-league.  Everything points to high standards both corporately and for individuals, and to attention to detail.  Having spent many years as the head of various teams or institutions myself, I applaud all of that.  They are big on hospitality and sponsorship-seeking, and even have a mascot.  I do not applaud mascots, ever, (except Junior Baggie Bird doing the pecking dance to Jump Up by House of Pain, but that is pure art).

AFC Fylde's ambitions are explicit.

Of course, all these things also exude the message that “Money is no Object”, and this has meant that Fylde receive a step 2 version of some of the negative feelings expressed towards Chelsea, Manchester City and maybe QPR.  Plus Fleetwood locally in more recent times.  As things stand, Blackpool exist in the Championship (but are “troubled” off the pitch at the time of writing), Fleetwood are in League Two, and Fylde are in Step Two with plans to be in the main Football League by 2022.  I can’t help thinking their biggest barrier would be to build their support base, and if they manage it then one or both of the others will have to take some damage.  The question, as ever, is whether it will all be sustainable, or whether someone’s dreams will have to crash-and-burn.  It will be interesting to watch – after today’s visit I would not bet against them.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!


  1. good report, I was behind the goal and would say that it was definitely a shot from ritchie allen that led to the goal. planning permission has been granted and apparently the project has to be approved by the secretary of state and work should begin before the end of 2014

  2. Looks like I shall be back again one day in that case!