Fylde edge low-scoring affair

Fylde's narrow win
Fylde's narrow win

Fylde 10, Blaydon 8

This will go down by some way Fylde's least convincing display of the season, but they managed to prevail in a contest that could have gone either way.

The home side came out on top thanks to a converted try and a penalty to Blaydon's unconverted try and a penalty - on such fine margins are matches like this decided.

It was a contest that was hard to call throughout and was devoid of a lot of free-flowing action, a rarity for the Woodlands.

It was an afternoon for dogged determination rather than flair, with defences dominating as the scoreline would readily indicate.

Fylde were rather sluggish in the first half, in which they trailed 5-0.

That they came back was in no small measure due to the impact of Scott Rawlings, both in attack and defence as he invariably caused Blaydon plenty of problems on a day when Tom Morton made his full debut and showed some neat touches at full-back, as well as an emergency scrum-half..

Simon Griffiths certainly made his forceful presence felt up front once he was introduced.

It was very much a no frills match where raw, physical aggression and graft were the qualities needed and Fylde came through, but by a slender margin against a side who completely belied their lowly status in the National League One table.

And to win a tight contest at least came as a pleasant change for Fylde given that they have been on the wrong end of such results with such regularity this season

Fylde had the first chance as Oli Brennand slipped the ball inside to Chris Johnson, who had a clear run to the line.

But the touch-judge was on the case and spotted the forward pass by home winger Brennand, who a couple of minutes later saved a likely try.

He was involved in a foot race with Blaydon winger Zach Kibiridge in a chase to the Fylde line - and it was the home's wing who was the quicker of the two speed merchants to get back and defuse the danger in timely fashion.

The first quarter passed without any movement on the scoreboard, both sides finding handling tough in the muddy conditions at the Woodlands.

But on 25 minutes the visitors started to launch a concerted attack after encroaching deep into the opposition territory after Fylde had been penalised for pulling down a maul.

There followed phases of attacking play that lasted all of four minutes.

Fylde were at full stretch trying to repel them until hooker Victor Guigounard crashed over on the right wing for an opening try that went unconverted, crucial come the final analysis.

Centre Ralph Dowds did really well to evade several tackles as Fylde launched a counter-offensive - but all his excellent work was undone when Dave Fairbrother let the ball slip from his grasp.

It was a half of few chances, disappointingly so for Fylde, and in the last play of the first period Blaydon forced a penalty, but fly-half Andrew Baggett was awry with his effort, again costly as it was to turn out.

Blaydon led 5-0 at the break.

Two minutes into the second half, Fylde levelled the scores, two replacements making a much-needed impact.

Simon Griffiths, off the bench, won the ball in midfield, forcing a Blaydon player into losing the ball - Scott Rawlings, on for Dowds, took a lot of stopping and made plenty of ground in the process.

Rawlings was in the move again seconds later, shifting it out to Phil Mills, who squeezed over in the corner.

Johnson's excellent conversion from wide out gave Fylde the lead at 7-5.

On 52 minutes Fylde lost Jordan Dorrington to a yellow card during a period of Blaydon pressure when Baggett missed with a dropped goal attempt as he tried to put Blaydon back in front.

Blaydon still had a penalty in a strong position, but determined defence kept them out on this occasion.

Morton went to scrum-half from full-back while Dorrington was off the field for 10 minutes.

Gareth Rawlings infringed at a ruck on 62 minutes giving Baggett another penalty opportunity - and this time he made no mistake as Blaydon inched ahead 8-7 in this tightest of encounters.

Fylde had this far failed to capitalise on their flying start to the second half and were generally off colour against a side showing themselves to be relentless in their tackling, giving the home attack little room to manoeuvre.

Johnson gave Fylde hope with a searing break through the middle as Fylde tried to retrieve the situation.

On 71 minutes Blaydon were pinged at a scrum close to their line and Johnson slotted over a straightforward kick to regain the lead at 10-8, the outcome still very much on a knife edge.

Blaydon won a penalthy in a promising position, but spurned it with a careless line-out throw, much to Fylde's relief.

Scott Rawlings snuffed out a Blaydon attack as no slight physical harm to himself - then Morton played his part by gaining valuable ground with a long kick upfield to relieve the pressure as the match moved into stoppage time, but there were no more scores as Fylde held out with no further alarms.

Not one to live long in the memory, but four points when all's said and done.

Fylde: Morton; Spragg, Dowds, Briers, Brennand; Johnson, Dorrington; Birchall, Mills, Lewis, Gray, S Rawlings, Vernon, Stewart, Fairbrother. Replacements: Griffiths, S Rawlings, Beaumont, Whiteside, Burtonwood