A Fylde side toughened by a sprinkling of first teamers, proved too strong for County`s young Development Squad side last night at Edgeley Park, where the visitors ran out comfortable winners 2-6 .
It was a funny old game, and with Karl Noon, Dave Hankin and ex A.L product Danny Lloyd, fresh from first team duty, in the visitors` side, it always seemed likely that County would struggle.
Amazingly though...they didn`t and quickly went 2-1 up, but after an equaliser had pegged the blues back, 2-2 seemed a fair reflection until a dubious penalty ,on 36 minutes, awarded for a perceived foul on Lloyd by Fagbola, changed things. It was put away with little difficulty by Fylde, who quickly ran in two more goals within another 2 minutes as County heads went down.
A half time score of 2-5 against, seemed to point to another 45 minutes of angst for County, along with a further avalanche of goals, but this never materialised, and a plucky display by AL,`s young side, in which Josh Powell, Scott Hughes , Charlie Russell and Anthony Oliver stood out, kept it down to 2-6 at the end, which under the circumstances was a good second half effort.
There were changes in the County side, from the 11 that started against Stalybridge. George Gray, Callum Cooke and Bobby Lofthouse gave way to Leon O`Malley, Elliot Dickson and Anthony Oliver, whilst the absence of Connor Hancock brought Jordan Fagbola into the side.
Fullbacks O`Malley and Dickson did well at times, but with Dion Charles and the experienced Danny Lloyd bombing in at them down the flanks they were always under pressure, as indeed were the whole defensive unit, and apart from that 3 minute spell when they conceded 3 goals they stood up to it well. It was game over however when the last of the 3 went in, and no matter how they tried there was no way back.
Charlie Russell had another good game in the engine room, and Scott Hughes did well in the centre of the defence later on, but it needed some response at the other end to dim the Fylde light, but Jordan Lazenbury, so lively last week, found the powerful Dave Hankin a massive hurdle to surmount, and despite 2 neatly snaffled goals from Anthony Oliver it was pretty much always a losing battle for County after the penalty blow.
Straight from the off, the scale of County`s task was writ large as , within a minute Matthew Todd had to pull out a terrific saving tackle to prevent Dion Charles from getting a shot off. Charles had another go from the resultant corner, but this was dealt with neatly by Josh Powell, the County keeper.
A couple of minutes of pressure from Fylde was then turned on its head by Danny Murray who sent a glorious shot in from somewhere back on Greek Street, which keeper Tom Goodwin did well to tip over the bar at the very last gasp!
This prompted some attacking from the blues with Goodwin keeping a shot from Joe Noblett out, but then struggling with a corner. Unfortunately County struggled to take advantage of this and the score line stayed blank.
By this time Lloyd and Charles were warming to their tasks and Leon O`Malley and Elliott Dickson both produced decent tackles to keep their man out, when worse seemed on the cards.
Meanwhile.....Dave Hankin was finding time to push on up the park and one such sortie saw County`s back line in difficulties- sorted thankfully by a foul by Tommy Lang which the referee spotted.
It still looked nothing other than an uphill battle for County, but ,on 15 minutes, the Fylde defence were filleted neatly by a ball in from the left . The defence were slow to react.....Anthony Oliver wasn`t, and in a flash he was past the last defender, and in another he had picked his spot and made it 1-0.
That was terrific, but there was absolutely no time to bask in the glory of it all, as Fylde promptly went to the other end of the park where Rob Hutton forced the ball home from close in.
Hmmmmm....1-1......,that was interesting stuff, but another 5 minutes and County sprung a surprise once again as the predatory Anthony Oliver capitalised on a defensive blunder to score another cool one at the Cheadle End.
With County`s fuse apparently now lit , Fylde came under the cosh a bit and Goodwin needed a top rank stop to keep a strike from Joe Noblett out. But this did not last long and the pendulum swung violently with Lloyd and Charles tearing into County`s flanks. Charles should have scored after linking up with Noon, but didn`t.....his shot going wide, and Josh Powell made a great save to deny Jack Williams on the end of a cross from Hankin.
It was hairy stuff for a while and the referee did well to ignore a risible `fall to earth’ by Lloyd executed under pressure from Fagbola.
The pressure kept mounting however and, on 30 minutes, County cracked. Dickson had just made a crucial block, and Todd had kicked another effort off the line, when the ball ran clear to Charles, who lashed it home brilliantly from outside the box!
That was a blow, and another was avoided a couple of minutes later when a loose ball saw Charles shoot wide when well placed.
For sure.....the pressure was on, but County were coping OK, and if they could just make it to the break without conceding again..........
Well......it didn`t quite happen like that did it, but the avalanche of goals that came shortly after, was started via poor decisions by the referee, and PS liner! Lloyd was on his umpteenth run into County territory. The fact that he was clearly offside was ignored by the PS liner, thus he was able to cut inside the box where Fagbola had tracked him. Lloyd then went down, much as he had done previously, but this time the referee pointed quickly to the spot. County had been hit by a dubious double whammy, but this fact counted for nothing as Lang fired the spot kick home.
The flood gates opened after this as ,with County heads down, Fylde tore into them.....Noon slamming the Lancashire sides fourth home after a defensive mix up from County, and Williams doing likewise moments later.
In a 10 minute spell County had gone from 2-1 up to 5-2 down, and you would not bet against it being ` game over’.
Credit to County though, they came out fighting after the break and Goodwin did well to prevent Russell from scoring from a pass by O`Malley. Then the ball rattled the post with Goodwin beaten- it looked to possibly have gone in, but the absence of goal line technology in the Lancashire League counted against the blues on this occasion!
It went on for some time in the same vein with County doing well, but without any luck, and Hughes was particularly unlucky arriving late at the back post with a diving header that deserved better.
With Mike Hampson on for Jordan Fagbola, County re-grouped with Hughes taking over in central defence, and kept up their encouraging up surge in form as Oliver and then Noblett went close to pulling one back.
That was Noblett`s last contribution- he was replaced by George Blackwell, as were Lazenbury and O`Malley by Will Hartley and Jordan Arklie-Young. Gradually Fylde got the upper hand again, shots from Lloyd, Hankin and substitute Aaron Fleming giving Josh Powell plenty to do, and the County keeper was on top of his game saving a certain goal with his legs with Williams bearing down on an open goal!
There was plenty of fight left in the County side, but the power was all Fylde`s and Powell could do absolutely nothing to prevent Lloyd from adding a sixth ,with 7 minutes left to play, as he slinked clear down the right to score with calm and assurance.
On it went with Fylde thirsting for more goals, but County dead set on not conceding another. Russell was particularly prominent at the point, as was Powell who again pulled off a terrific save in the dying embers of the game to keep a strike by Fleming out.
A late flurry from County saw an Oliver shot carry the bar, and a late /late combo from Will Hartley and Mike Hampson induced a spill from the Fylde keeper, but despite the close attendance of Anthony Oliver, there was to be no late consolation goal for the blues.
There is no league game next week for the Development Squad ,but Alan Lord has arranged a friendly ,away at Atherton Colliery. The kick off is 7.45 p.m ,and it would be good to see a few there in support.
County line up:
Josh Powell, Leon O`Malley ( Will Hartley 79), Elliott Dickson, Matthew Todd, Jordan Fagbola ( Mike Hampson 56), Scott Hughes, Jordan Lazenbury ( Jordan Arklie-Young 79),Danny Murray, Anthony Oliver, Charlie Russell, Joe Noblett ( George Blackwell 71).
AFC Fylde line up;
Tom Goodwin, Cane Pickering, Dave Hankin, Jack Swindlehurst, Callum Morris, Alex O`Rourke, Dion Charles, Oli Wilkinson, Karl Noon, Jack Williams, Danny Lloyd.
Tom Lang, Sam Girven, Rob Hutton, Aaron Fleming, Josh Smith.