10:35am Wednesday 25th September 2013
By Andrew Simpson
A MELLOW mist enveloped Wincham Park during Witton’s latest home defeat, but Albion’s autumn may yet prove to be fruitful.
The gloom that descended following a weekend wobble was lifted, at least in part, after the hosts made title favourites Fylde toil for their seventh win of the season.
The result, 1-0, was the same as Saturday. The reaction, pessimism pushed aside by pride, a contrast.
Still the numbers are not pretty; Brian Pritchard’s men have lost five of six Premier Division matches played in front of their own supporters so far.
They have failed to score in successive league matches too, something that has never happened during his tenure.
Nor did they often enough look likely to avoid such a statistic, save for a perfectly-timed tackle by Fylde’s Luke Denson late on when Danny Andrews shaped to shoot following substitute Neville Thompson’s cute assist.
Their best attacks bookended the second half, for Michael Powell had fizzed a drive narrowly over in the seconds after the interval following debutant Ally Brown’s raid down the right.
In between, there was little to choose between the teams.
The Coasters, ahead thanks to Danny Lloyd’s clinical finish in the first half, were content to wait.
Able to counter with speed, it was a tactic that almost earned a second, decisive, goal.
Witton custodian Matt Cooper kicked the ball directly to Lloyd on 55 minutes, sparing his own blushes by reacting swiftly to smother the goal-scorer’s resulting shot.
From another break, this time led by replacement Jack Dorney, Fylde front man Matt Blinkhorn fluffed a sitter. Substitute Joe Booth went closer, thumping a header against the crossbar late on.
Marc Joseph headed high meeting at the other end, but not once was net-minder Ben Hinchliffe called upon to save.
And that marked the difference.
Fylde, passive perhaps, still converted their best chance.
Their goal arrived on 34 minutes, Lloyd spearing a low shot, left-footed, with power past Cooper after Blinkhorn’s chipped pass had eluded both Ben Harrison and Brown.
Witton’s best spell preceded it.
Another debutant, Jonathan Breeze, made the hosts’ midfield more solid behind Anthony Sheehan and Powell.
When Josh Hancock spotted Brown’s overlap on the right after a quarter hour, his shot was deflected by a defender towards goal and Hinchliffe reacted smartly to save low down.
When front man Chris Luby steered Sheehan’s chip forward into Andrews’ path, his finish – hurried when it need not have been – was sliced wide.
Witton, the Premier Division’s lowest scorers aside from rock-bottom Droylsden, know where they need to improve.
After 10 games last season they had scored 15 goals, only four more than at the same stage this time.
Their opponents in the tenth round a year ago, when they recorded an excellent 2-1 win on the road? Fylde.
Pritchard said afterwards that the Coasters set a standard against which he measures his side’s progress.
While acknowledging there is work to do, he can be heartened the distance to make up is shorter then he might have feared beforehand.
Witton (4-1-4-1) Cooper (GK), Brown, Harrison, Joseph, Moyo, Hancock (Purcell 67), Powell, Breeze, Sheehan (Thompson 67), Andrews, Luby (Wilson 75) Subs not used Glover, Ashworth
AFC Fylde (4-3-3) Hinchliffe (GK), Denson, Matt Hughes, Russell, Sumner, Caspar Hughes, Hankin (Rainford 75), Winter, Michael Barnes, Blinkhorn (Booth 78), Lloyd (Dorney 68) Subs not used Hare (GK), Bradley Barnes Goal Lloyd 34
Referee Gary Hilton (Upholland)
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