Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: AFC Fylde V Torquay United – National League
Venue: Mill Farm, Wesham
Date: Saturday 18th January 2020
Previous NL form (last six):
AFC Fylde: L – D – D – D – L – L
Torquay United: L – L – L – W – L – D
Last time the two teams met: National League, Torquay United 2-1 AFC Fylde – 5th October 2019
Matt Buse picked the perfect time to open his goal-scoring account for Torquay United, as he struck deep in injury time to secure a last gasp victory for the Gulls against AFC Fylde. A stunning volley from Kalvin Kalala gave United the lead, before a defensive mix-up early in the second half saw Jordan Williams level for the Coasters with his fifth goal of the season. However, with the game heading for a draw, Buse connected with a cross from Kalala in second half injury time to seal back-to-back wins for the Gulls for the second time in the 2019-20 season.
United opened the scoring with their first shot at goal on eight minutes, as Kalala volleyed beautifully home after the Coasters failed to clear their lines after a free-kick from Jake Andrews.
The Coasters came close to levelling matters in the 19th minute as Alex Whitmore nodded a Mark Yeates corner against the post. As the half wore on, Jamie Reid and Kyle Cameron both threatened for the Gulls without seriously troubling the Coasters backline. Fylde striker Danny Rowe – last season’s leading scorer in the National League – found himself restricted to long range efforts as he curled a shot from 30-yards over the bar on 41 minutes.
The Coasters continued to search for an equaliser in the second half as James Craigen was denied by Gulls’ keeper Lucas Covolan on 51 minutes. A minute later, the visitors were level as Williams capitalised on a defensive mix-up. United were then forced to withstand a period of heavy pressure, but the Gulls defence stood firm to keep the visitors at bay.
However, when both sides appeared to be settling for a share of spoils, Buse’s headed effort, which went in off the post, claimed maximum points for the Gulls.
Manager: Jim Bentley
Liverpool-born Jim Bentley ended a 17-year association with Morecambe when he was appointed as successor to Dave Challinor as manager of AFC Fylde in October 2019. Bentley, a central defender by trade, first joined the Shrimps as a player in 2002 from Telford United and captained the Morecambe side that first won promotion into the Football League in the 2006-07 season. He was appointed as reserve team manager in 2010 and would succeed Sammy McIlroy as manager a year later, a role that he would hold for over eight years. Bentley would later become the Football League’s longest serving manager in 2017 following Paul Tisdale’s departure from the Exeter City hot seat, a title which he held until he took charge of the Coasters following the dismissal of Challinor.
One to watch: Jordan Williams
Jordan Williams joined the Coasters in the summer of 2019 following the expiration of his contract at Rochdale, for whom he had made 24 appearances in League One in the 2018-19 season.
Rochdale signed Williams from Barrow back in June 2017 for a fee believed to be in the region of £100,000, after a season where he netted 12 goals in 42 appearances for the Bluebirds. Williams, who can play across the front three, is currently the Coasters top scorer for the 2019-20 campaign with ten goals in all competitions.
A brief history of AFC Fylde:
Since they were founded following an amalgamation of Kirkham Town and Wesham in 1988 (when they became Kirkham and Wesham FC), AFC Fylde have experienced a meteoric rise through the footballing pyramid in recent years. After winning promotion from the West Lancashire League to the North West Counties League in 2007, the Coasters won the FA Vase in 2008 and then changed their name to AFC Fylde ahead of the 2008-09 campaign. Their first season following their rebranding proved to be a successful one as they were promoted from the North West Counties Premier Division at their first attempt.
The appointment of Dave Challinor as manager early in the 2011-12 season marked a new chapter in the club’s history, as the former Tranmere defender led them to the Northern League Division North title. Two years later, Challinor guided the Coasters to promotion to National League North via the play-offs, as they defeated Ashton United in the final 4-3 on penalties, after drawing 1-1 in normal time.
In the 2016-17 season, after missing out in the play-offs in the previous two campaigns, Fylde won the National League North title. They followed this up by reaching the National League play-offs in their first season in the top tier of non-league football. Last season, they enjoyed arguably their finest campaign to date as they lost to Salford City in the National League play-off final at Wembley and then won the FA Trophy, beating Leyton Orient in the final.
AFC Fylde (4-2-3-1)
Luke Burke – Neill Byrne – Alex Whitmore – Kyle Jameson
Danny Philliskirk – Ryan Croasdale
Jordan Williams – Nick Haughton – Dan Bradley
Robbie Cundy – Gary Warren – Kyle Cameron
Joe Lewis – Armani Little – Connor Evans – Asa Hall – Jackson Longridge