By Brad Saxton | Image by Tom Poole
Ahead of this weekend’s Vanarama National League fixture at Mill Farm, we take a look at this weekend’s opposition, AFC Fylde
Last season’s National League North Champions have made a similar start to the season as the Minstermen, but a three match unbeaten run has seen them move up the table and outside the relegation zone over recent weeks.
Despite losing 2-1 last weekend to Sutton United in the Emirates FA Cup First Round, Fylde head into this fixture full of confidence having turned their season around with some impressive results of late.
After drawing at home to Ebbsfleet United on the 21st October, they’ve won back-to-back games in the league after securing a 3-0 win at home against Oldham Athletic and a 4-0 win at Gateshead two weeks ago.
Currently sitting 20th in the league table, they sit level on the same amount of points as the Minstermen, but currently boast a better goal record than Neal Ardley’s side.
Manager: Chris Beech
After joining AFC Fylde eleven months ago as Director of Football, Beech recently stepped up to become the club’s interim manager following the departure of Adam Murray last month.
He was previously appointed Head Coach of Football League side Carlisle United, and he led the club away from relegation in his first season in charge, before guiding the club to a mid-table finish in League Two the following year in his first full year in charge.
The 49-year-old has previously also worked for Rochdale AFC, where he held a handful of roles from Head of Youth to Assistant Manager over a 12-year period.
Prior to moving into management, he made over 300 Football League appearances as a central midfielder, after turning out for the likes of Blackpool, Hartlepool United, Huddersfield Town and Rochdale.
Top Scorer: Jonathan Ustabasi
The 29-year-old from Turkey has enjoyed a fine start to the season with Fylde, having netted seven goals so far in twenty appearances.
Recently, he has netted five goals in five games as he has helped the club climb out of the relegation zone in their first season back in the National League.
The forward joined the club in the summer from Chorley, having netted fifteen goals last season in the National League North.
Described as a pacey, exciting, attacking player, Ustabaşi spent several years in Turkey at the start of his career, starting with Denizlispor U21s.
Ustabasi also spent spells with the likes of Bursasport and FC Schkupi, before moving over to England to play for Stalybridge Celtic, and then Chorley.
One to Watch: Nick Haughton
The 29-year-old extended his stay with AFC Fylde this summer, signing a new two-year deal to extend his stay with the club following last season’s promotion-winning campaign.
Last season’s National League North Player of the Year has become a fan-favourite at the club in the North-West, following his arrival at the club from Salford City in 2018.
A goalscoring midfielder, Haughton had scored 80 goals in just over 150 appearances following the conclusion of last season, and he has carried on his goalscoring form this season having scored five goals in 17 National League games.
Head to Head
This weekend’s game will be only the fourth-ever meeting between the two sides as we go head-to-head at Mill Farm.
The first-ever meeting came in the 2020/21 season which was the first-ever game at the LNER Community Stadium, where Fylde ran out 3-1 winners in North Yorkshire.
The following season, City competed a league double over AFC Fylde as we went on to win promotion via the playoffs back to the National League.
The Minstermen secured a 2-0 win on our first-ever visit to Mill Farm on the 1st March 2022, where goals from Lenell John-Lewis and Mitch Hancox secured a crucial three points, before a 2-1 win on the 2nd May secured the Minstermen’s place in the playoffs that season.