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Club News

AFC Fylde vs. Latics

24 October 2023

Club News

AFC Fylde vs. Latics

24 October 2023

The next round of National League fixtures rolls around as Latics make the trip to Mill Farm Stadium to face AFC Fylde.

New Oldham Athletic boss Micky Mellon certainly enjoyed his first 90 minutes in the dugout, helping steer his side to a thrilling 4-3 win over North-West rivals Rochdale at Spotland.

Nathan Sheron opened the scoring with a powerful first-time drive that found the bottom corner a quarter of an hour into the fixture before a terrific Mark Kitching cross on the break was glanced well by Devarn Green into the far corner to double Latics’ lead.

Kairo Mitchell meanwhile got himself on the scoresheet for the seventh time this season, albeit in fortunate fashion. Jimmy Keohane’s initial attempt ricocheted off the centre forward which wrongfooted Mathew Hudson.

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Keohane wasn’t to be denied for a second time however, Latic’s failed to deal with a corner and as a result the ball fell to the midfielder, who lashed a dramatic equaliser that saw Dale perform a nine-minute comeback.

Oldham persevered, Hallam Hope ended his season-long goal drought with a fine curling effort that restored the visitors’ lead, before his flick on fell into the path of James Norwood whose neat flick over Louie Moulden rounded off the scoring for Latics.

Set pieces meanwhile remained an issue for Mellon’s side to deal with. Keohane once again punished Oldham for not clearing their lines with a thumping volley, though his second strike only proved to be a consolation to conclude a dramatic contest.

The win meant Oldham continued their unbeaten run which extended to seven National League games, though it was their first league win in four games.

It also sees Latics without defeat in their last three visits in league action and their last four in all competitions which may bode well for a tricky test on Tuesday evening.

The Opposition

Their upcoming opponents meanwhile have endured a turbulent time as of late, on and off the pitch. Now former head coach Adam Murray parted ways with the club in early October which has seen Director of Football Chris Beech fill in an interim role.

A run of just one win in 12 league games was enough to force a change in management, whilst Beech has done a solid job of steadying the ship since he stepped into the hot seat.

In just the two games he has overseen so far, AFC Fylde have gone unbeaten, securing a place in the first-round proper of the FA Cup before a positive display at Mill Farm against Ebbsfleet United last weekend saw the club end a run of three consecutive defeats.

A fairly even half between the two sides saw both have chances that weren’t taken. Sam Graham saw his looping header tipped over by Mark Cousins in the Ebbsfleet goal, before a ricochet in the box fell to Luke Charman with a gilt-edged chance that was parried away.

The visitors meanwhile did pose a threat on the break with the explosive talent they had on show. Dominic Poleon had his first effort at a ninth league goal this season snuffed out after his cute dink trailed wide of the far post.

Ebbsfleet’s top scorer meanwhile inside a minute later pierced the Fylde net. Early substitute Matthias Fanimo produced a terrific piece of skill down the right to free himself in the box before finding Poleon who swept a first-time strike into the bottom corner.

The hosts however weren’t stunted by the opening goal. Both Charman and Harry Davis saw huge opportunities go begging towards the end of the first period, though Beech would have been encouraged by his team’s attacking performance.

The second half meanwhile didn’t see the Fylde slow down, though the first opportunity of the period did come nine minutes in. Turkish forward Jonathan Ustabasi span brilliantly down the left flank before his effort from a tight angle was beaten clear by Cousins.

The home sides’ pressure mounted and ultimately broke Ebbsfleet’s resistance just minutes later Connor Barrett’s deep free kick was met by Davis’ clever looping header that dropped into the far corner to provide a deserved equaliser.

In what was a pivotal turning point in the game, a red card was issued to Ousseynou Cisse for an alleged push on Josh Kay, though it later appeared that the punishment had been brandished to the wrong player, meant for Hayden White.

Fylde’s onslaught continued. Nick Haughton and Graham both had terrific headers denied brilliantly by Cousins whilst with 15 minutes left Ustabasi threatened once more down the left before Haughton’s curling effort drifted just wide.

Haydn Hollis and Poleon almost delivered late sucker punches but were both denied by good Theo Richardson stops, before Toby Edser was the last to be thwarted by the man in the Fylde goal.

It brought an end to a thrilling 1-1 draw, where either side could have gained all three points, and though it brought an end to a run of consecutive defeats for Fylde, it meant they remained winless in now their last five National League fixtures.

Despite this record, Beech’s side are now unbeaten in their last two fixtures in all competitions, both coming at home which may bode well for the meeting with Oldham at Mill Farm.

The interim boss will hope he can continue to keep the ship steady at Fylde whilst the club’s search for a new manager goes on, whilst another performance like the one against Ebbsfleet will be what he demands from his players as they take on one of the inform teams in the National League.

Key Threat

Wide man Ustabasi showed in his involvement at the weekend just how frightening he can be with the ball at his feet, whilst his diverse set of attributes makes the forward a difficult problem for any defensive line to deal with.

Though the Turk has just scored twice this campaign in seven league starts and three times in all competitions, his explosive pace and directness provides such importance to a side who have struggled to find the net this season.

Ustabasi likes to hug the touchline, resembling the tendencies of what a traditional winger would do, creating space for his teammates in the inside half spaces and providing a direct option in threatening areas down the flanks.

He has also proved to be a versatile option, starting left against Ebbsfleet whilst the weekend prior he had begun from the opposite side, where he nodded in his third goal of the season.

The forwards ability to beat a man in either direction has proved to be a valuable asset and means he can be as effective on either flank. Latics must be able to keep tabs on an unpredictable player who can hurt them and must limit the number of opportunities he gets on the ball.

In the dugout

Beech’s recent introduction as interim manager has seen him take on his first management position since he took charge of Carlisle United midway through the 2019/20 League Two season.

The Englishman first took on such a role in 2009 when he became Rochdale’s U18s manager. He went on to become assistant manager for a long period under Keith Hill, which saw the pair take charge of 321 fixtures together.

His first and only managerial role which came at Carlisle came next for Beech, who notably saw his side through to the third round of the FA Cup after a 1-0 win over Forest Green, before he in his first full season in 20/21 steered Carlisle to a solid tenth place finish.

Beech won’t have fond memories of his upcoming opponents who beat his side 3-0 in just his second fixture in that season, which he may want to avenge on Tuesday.

AFC Fylde look to follow up FA Cup progress

The 49-year-old however parted ways with the club after a difficult start to his second season in charge, after winning just two of the opening 11 league games.

Now Director of Football at Fylde Beech wouldn’t have envisioned stepping into a management position, but his previous experience has provided the club with a viable option to help steady a difficult start to the season.

Whilst the search for a new head coach continues, Beech will hope to provide solid results and foundations for a new manager to build on whilst he will look to work closely with whoever comes in, to help produce a successful and positive environment at Mill Farm.

Match Details

Kick-off is scheduled for 19:45pm on Tuesday 24 October at Mill Farm Stadium.

The referee is Michael Barlow whilst assistant officials will be Jonathan Wyatt and Jacob Graham. The fourth official is Mark Reeves.

Match coverage and information 

Live audio commentary is available on Latics Player, guiding you through the match. 

For more information, visit the Latics Player page by clicking here

Alternatively, supporters can also follow the game with live updates on the club's official Twitter account: @OfficialOAFC 

As this game is not being played within the blocked broadcast hours stipulated by UEFA, live streaming will be available through National League TV for supporters in the UK and overseas.

Matchday passes are available for £9.50, with further details here.

As always, we will endeavour to ensure confirmation of the line-up is published as soon as possible on social media. 

However, supporters should note that team sheets in the National League are not exchanged until an hour before kick-off. This is 15 minutes later than in the EFL and as a result, the line-up is likely to be published slightly later than in previous seasons.

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