On a blustery afternoon on the Fylde coast, a spirited first half display topped off with a half time lead was not enough to see off a second half fight back away at table topping AFC Fylde on Saturday afternoon. Making two changes to the team that narrowly lost out in the FA Cup last weekend, Dominic Roma restored club captain Nathan Jarman to the starting eleven and handed a debut to former Sheffield United goalkeeper George Willis, most recently at league rivals Stalybridge Celtic.
In the opening exchanges, Brad Beatson was alert to block a Danny Rowe effort, after the leagues’ leading marksman was allowed to travel too far. This served as an early warning and Gainsborough tightened up the back line. From the subsequent clearance, the returning Jarman worked the left channel well and cutting in from the flank, saw his effort deflected behind for a corner.
The resulting flag kick caused uncertainty in the Fylde back line with Tony Thompson flapping at the corner. At the other end, Fylde went closer when Danny Rowe went closer still with a free header, but full back Josh Lacey was in the right place at the right time to clear the effort off the line.
Trinity, lining up in a traditional 4-4-2 formation began to compete more with the much fancied Coasters during an opening period restricting them to frustrated long range efforts before Jordan Thewlis gave the visiting side a deserved lead two minutes before the interval.
Prior to Thewlis’ strike, Nathan Jarman was slid in by Alex Wiles, but his effort on goal was somehow blocked by Thompson in the Fylde goal. Trinity’s compact shape and tenacity on the break frustrating the hosts into strikes from distance from Josh Langley, Rowe and Fylde debutant Dan Bradley, all of which gave Willis little trouble.
Six minutes before the break and Fylde lost key defender Steve Williams, with a defensive reshuffle ensuing. It was in this period that Trinity took advantage, Matt Thornhill twice doing well to keep possession, the former Hibernian midfielder played in Jordan Thewlis, and with space opening up in front of the attack minded, former Harrogate man, he snapped up the opportunity, placing a neat finish out of the reach of Thompson; sending Trinity’s travelling faithful into raptures behind the goal!
As the break approached, Rowe again tried his luck from range a couple of times, his sighters just that as the Volts went in at the break a goal to the good. Half time, AFC Fylde 0, Gainsborough Trinity 1.
The hosts got the second half underway and were soon on the front foot through top scorer Rowe again, curling narrowly wide of Willis’ left hand up right. Soon after there was a let off for Trinity, when Bohan Dixon beat the offside trap and got in a low cross to the near post, a lapse in communication almost saw the ball spill from Willis’ grasp, rebound off centre back Adam Quinn and give the Coasters a fortuitous equaliser.
Dixon and Rowe tried their luck from range, before Jarman had the opportunity to extend Gainsborough’s lead, but his attempted chip lacked the elevation to beat a back pedalling Thompson. With Fylde having much more of the ball, Trinity were still asking questions – a driving run from Thewlis led a counter attack for the visitors, and picking out Thornhill – the midfielder lost his footing at the vital moment with a man over, in a good position.
It wasn’t long to wait for the visitors to get that leveller though, Rowe making room for a strike from eighteen yards out, four minutes later and James Hardy turned the game on its’ head, putting the Coasters 2-1 ahead on 63 minutes. Almost immediately, James Reid had a sight of goal, his effort stinging the hands of Thompson, before Roma made a double change for Trinity with Darnelle Bailey-King and Reece Hands entering the fray.
Bailey-King won his side a free kick in a dangerous position soon after coming on, and although Jarman beat the wall with his powerful strike, a further white shirted player was in the right place to prevent the blockbuster troubling Thompson. Jake Picton then looked to pick out Jarman with a raking diagonal ball that the skipper did brilliantly to bring under control, playing an almost instantaneous cross with the outside of his foot, only to see it fall to a Fylde defender.
With Gainsborough chasing the game, Dan Bradley capped off his debut with a goal, leading a rapid counter attack, the Fylde record signing carried the ball forward at pace, before finishing low past Willis to put the game beyond doubt for the hosts with eleven minutes remaining.
Trinity continued to huff and puff, but the best chance fell to Adam Quinn, who saw his header from Thornhill’s floated free kick comfortably held by Thompson. Trinity now have an enforced fourteen day break before Tamworth visit the Gainsborough Martin & Co Arena on Saturday 8th October, kicking off at 3pm. Full time, AFC Fylde 3, Gainsborough Trinity 1.
Thompson, Holmes, Kennedy, Langley, Williams (Barker), Bond, Hardy (M Hughes 89), C Hughes, Rowe, Dixon, Bradley. Subs (not used): Blinkhorn, Jennings
Hedge, Lacey, Beatson, Thornhill, Picton, Quinn, Reid (Bailey-King), Wiles, Worsfold (Hands), Jarman, Thewlis (Morrison). Subs (not used): Davis and Wilson
Goal: Thewlis (43), Rowe (59), Hardy (63), Bradley (79)
Referee: Kevin Mulraine
Photos by John Rudkin (johnrudkin999) - Gainsborough Trinity Official Photographer
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