FC Halifax Town will entertain AFC Fylde this Good Friday, April 14 (3pm) in the first part of an Easter double-header which could go a long way to determining just how successful the Shaymen’s season will be. The official website spoke to a couple of Fylde fans ahead of the game, getting their views on the season so far, their history of watching the Coasters, and how they think the match might pan out…
Jack Connor is a 22-year-old Fylde fan whose first game was the 2008 FA Vase Final at Wembley, when the team was still called Kirkham & Wesham FC, which it changed to AFC Fylde at the start of the 2008-09 season. They beat Lowestoft Town 2-1 in the Vase Final. Jack says he went fairly regularly from 2008 until 2014, when he started attending every match.
Craig Wilson’s first Fylde game was an FA Cup fixture against Accrington Stanley in November 2015. He has been Joint Chairman of the AFC Fylde Independent Supporters’ Club since the start of this season. The 44-year-old says he and fellow Chairman Ian French have overseen the progression of a fantastic relationship with the club and ‘F.I.S.C.’ now have their own website: www.fyldesupporters.co.uk. Craig says the Supporters’ Club’s progression has included producing their own merchandise and organising charity events, whilst maintaining the priority of supporting and being ambassadors for AFC Fylde, who he describes as a ‘wonderful family friendly club’.
What is your all-time high with AFC Fylde?
JC: I think it would have to be the penalty shoot-out victory over Ashton United in the Northern Premier League Play-off final in 2014. We equalised late on in the game and our keeper at the time, Ben Hinchliffe, scored the decisive penalty. Going to watch us play at Plymouth Argyle and Milwall in the FA Cup were pretty special too.
CW: Probably in March of this year when I led a group of 12 cyclists from AFC Fylde to Harrogate raising over £10k for a local charity. The fans at the finish drumming and singing from both clubs was something we will never forget. Too many away games to mention as highs, as I enjoy all away games especially. Also, Jack Connor buying me a pint in December 2015. He is the tightest person I have ever met, so this brought a tear to my eye!
And the lowest point?
JC: By a long way the Play-off final defeat at North Ferriby United last year. We had a goal disallowed for offside, which looked like it was on, which made it even worse.
CW: Ferriby away – Play-off final last season.
What are your thoughts on Fylde’s season so far?
JC: It’s been a massive rollercoaster ride. We’ve been fantastic going forward but it’s been frustrating to concede as many as we have done. We’ve had some fantastic results like the 9-2 win over Boston and the 6-0 win at Altrincham but it’s all about seeing the job through now and getting the wins we need to get promotion.
CW: Great going forward and shocking defending. Being top is fantastic but we are not over the line yet. Moving to Mill Farm has been incredible.
What did you make of the victory over Halifax earlier in the season; and do you expect a tougher test this time around?
JC: It was a really tough game which Halifax had the better of in the first half and deservedly led even if it was only for about 90 seconds. It’s quite a big wide pitch at The Shay which should suit us, however we will need to keep focused and take our chances when they come to make sure we get a good result.
CW: A close game and a draw might have been fair. Kosylo, I thought, was excellent and caused us problems. Denton loves playing against us and always seems to score. Will be interesting this time as we have been poor away recently but a big crowd and decent pitch will help us play football. With Denton up front we know what to expect.
Dion Charles has joined the Shaymen on loan recently from Fleetwood Town… what do you think of him as a player? And what did you make of the disagreements between Fylde and Fleetwood over his move between the clubs?
JC: Dion is very naturally talented no question about that, but I think his decision making lets him down at times. In injury time in last year’s Play-off final he took a shot when it was better to square it to Danny Rowe instead, who would have tapped it into an empty goal to earn us promotion. In terms of the transfer to Fleetwood I don’t really have too many strong feelings towards it as we’ve been able to bring in quality players to replace him.
CW: As a player he wasn’t popular and he got booed a lot last season. Well known for not squaring the ball to Danny Rowe in the Play-off final v North Ferriby. Rowey was waiting in the penalty box sitting down on a picnic table waiting for Dion to square it. Dion ballooned the ball over the Astro-pitch and it was last seen heading towards the Humber Bridge.
Steve Williams is a former Shayman on the Fylde books… what do you make of his Coasters career to date?
JC: I’m a fan of Willo. He’s grabbed quite a few goals this season which have usually got us results. He’s physically strong but for some reason we’ve not been as consistent defensively as we have been in previous years which obviously for any defender is something they’ll be judged on. A few Halifax fans I spoke to when we signed him said he had a few injury problems at previous clubs. Unfortunately he’s missed quite a few games recently but hopefully he’s back fit soon.
CW: It was always going to be tough replacing Tom Hannigan. Steve Williams is a big lad and we needed height in the back four. He has missed a lot of games but has scored 6 priceless goals. He might be needed for the run in as we have really struggled for injuries this season especially at centre-half.
Who’s your Fylde player for the Shaymen fans to watch out for this Friday?
JC: Obviously there is Danny Rowe who has been in unbelievable goal-scoring form ever since he joined us, but there are a couple of others I would include too. James Hardy is a really promising young attacking midfielder who has extremely quick feet and can take out 4-5 players in one move. I’m sure he will be a football league player in the future, whether it be with us or with another side. Another who I think will be crucial is Dan Bradley. We signed him from Alfreton in September and he’s probably been our most consistent player since. If there is a weakness to his game I haven’t seen it yet.
CW: Has to be Rowey, your fans will fear him the most, give him plenty of stick he loves it.
Are you confident the team will get over the line and win the Vanarama National League North?
JC: Before the Stalybridge game absolutely. I’m still confident now but I know we’ll have to put in some graft and make sure we don’t make any silly mistakes. We have two home games with Bradford Park Avenue and Worcester City and Friday’s game and Boston United away. If we can win three of the last four we are pretty much there because of our superior goal difference compared to Kidderminster.
CW: Not counting my chickens yet, but we are a much better team than last season and nobody deserves to go up more than Chally [Manager Dave Challinor] and D.A.H. [Chairman David Haythornthwaite].
And finally, can you give us a score prediction for the match?
JC: I’d love to say we’ll win but I think it will be a draw. Both sides are capable of beating the other as was proven in the first game. I think we’ll concede but I also think we’ll score at some point so a 1-1 draw is my prediction. I’ll go for Peniket for Halifax and Rowe for Fylde.
CW: A Rowey hat-trick and a 4-2 win for the Coasters. Denton to get his usual goal against us
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