AFC Fylde v Alfreton Town

7.45pm  24 January 2017

National League, North Division
AFC Fylde 2 Alfreton Town 0 (att 1,503)

It's a strange time for football on the Fylde coast. After a brief spell close to the summit of English football Blackpool FC are in free-fall, and have lost their tag at the area's top side to upwardly-mobile Fleetwood Town.

But Blackpool could soon be pushed down to third place, if AFC Fylde continue a rapid rise that is arguably even more remarkable then that of Fleetwood.

AFC Fylde were still called Kirkham and Wesham when I saw them play at home, in front of 65 spectators on a roped-off park pitch, in the West Lancashire League in 1999. They'd just moved to a new ground in 2006, when I was one of 55 people watching a game against Dalton United.

Ten seasons and five promotions later and another new ground later, the now-renamed AFC Fylde are attracting four figures crowds to a plush Mill Farm stadium. The transformation is astonishing, and this win keeps them top of the league and on course to be just one further step from joining the Football League.

The win against Alfreton won't go down as one of Fylde's more memorable 90 minutes this season, but I guess it's just the sort of hard-won three points that teams with title aspirations need to be capable of getting.

The visitors set out to defend and try to hit their hosts on the break. They came close once or twice, and it took until three-quarters of the game had gone before Fylde broke the deadlock. A well-taken second goal sealed a satisfactory evening for them.

I liked the new ground. The main stand is the only seated area, but is built with offices, bar, restaurant and club shop all incorporated. A covered terrace runs the length of the far side and and the 'away' end, while the other end is, for now at least, just open flat standing. It's a million miles from the roped-off pitch they played on when I first visited.










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