Sunday, 31 January 2016

AFC Telford United 1 v 2 AFC Fylde

Saturday 30th January 2016
New Bucks Head, Wellington
National League North Division
Admission: £14.00
Programme: £2.50
Attendance: 1035
Match Rating: 4

When I originally booked train tickets for today a couple of months ago, it was with the aim of ticking off another of the 92 with a visit to Shrewsbury Town. Unfortunately for me, in the meantime they reached the fourth round of the FA Cup, with that fixture replacing the scheduled league fixture. Although they were drawn at home to Sheffield Wednesday, tickets were only available to those with a purchase history, and so I planned instead to get off the train a stop early and tick off a ground in the National League North, a very rare occasion indeed for me.

New Buck's Head is about a 15 minute walk from Wellington train station. It is a modern, relatively new ground, built in 2003, but has some nice individuality about it, offering very comfortable, good facilities, to make it a pleasant place to watch non-league football. Along one length is the rather impressive main single tiered all-seater stand. Providing the only seating in the stadium, views are excellent, with good elevation and space between rows. Executive boxes are located above the spectator seating, with a control centre in one corner and offices and the players' tunnel in the other. Behind both goals are virtually identical stands covering terracing, with an attractive blue curved roof on each. An interesting feature of the home end was the rather attractive graffiti murals along the concourse. The opposite end is allocated to away fans when large numbers are expected, but it was closed today. Behind this stand and towards the corner is a hotel. Along the remaining length is uncovered terracing, with a building housing the supporters bar, club offices and a study centre behind the middle section. The 64 page programme was excellent, with plenty of colour and attractively laid out, and with plenty of interesting and relevant reading material.

After relegation from the Premier division last season, AFC Telford United are in grave danger of suffering successive relegations, as they went into this game bottom of the table, three points from safety, with six wins and five draws from their 27 league games, although they had picked up some form, with two wins and a draw since the turn of the year before a disappointing home defeat against fellow relegation threatened Hednesford Town in midweek. Having finished runners up in this division last season, AFC Fylde are well on course to reach the play-offs again this season, in fourth place with 14 wins and four draws from their 24 games. When the two teams met in October, AFC Fylde won 1-0.

On a sunny afternoon, after an even start, the visitors took the lead with six minutes on the clock. The ball was played low diagonally forward to the feet of Danny Rowe, who took the ball deep into the area, and had plenty of time and space to check back before firing the ball low across the keeper and into the net. Telford didn’t let their heads drop though, and they were back on level terms on 14 minutes. After a short corner, the ball was crossed to the far post perfectly by Sean Clancy, and John Cofie nodded the ball in from close range. Telford continued to look threatening and a lovely drive from outside the area by Lucas Dawson struck the crossbar. Somewhat against the run of play, AFC Fylde went back into the lead on 38 minutes. Danny Lloyd was played in completely unmarked down the left channel, and eventually he fired past the keeper from a fairly tight angle and the ball went in off the far post. The match became increasingly feisty, with some cynical play from the visitors in particular with off the ball incidents, robust challenges and moaning to the referee. Half time came at a good time with a red card becoming increasingly inevitable.

That there were no further goals (and that the game finished with nobody sent off) in the second half was astonishing, as the home side came desperately close to scoring several times, having by far the better of the second half, while the visitors looked dangerous on the break despite a poor second half performance by them. Telford had three stand out chances to claim a vital point. On 55 minutes, Dave Hibbert shot over the keeper from just outside the area but the ball rebounded off the far post. On 63 minutes, an overhead kick forced a save at full stretch by the keeper, as did a glancing header from a free kick on 71 minutes. But after that, the chances dried up as Fylde weathered the storm as they held on for three points to consolidate their place in the play-offs positions. Although Telford will feel bitterly disappointed not to have claimed at least a point from this game, at least results went for them today and remain three points behind the two teams immediately above the relegation zone and the performance they showed today will give them great heart that they can pick up the necessary points to lift them out of the relegation zone

No comments: