AFC Fylde rescued a crucial point with a late equaliser in an entertaining 3-3 draw at Harrogate Town.
Simon Ainge put the hosts ahead before Danny Rowe equalised with the Coasters’ first penalty of the season. Dan Bradley put the visitors into the driving seat shortly after the break however Ainge brought the match level once again a minute later.
Ainge thought he had won it for Harrogate with his hat-trick goal but there was late drama as substitute Matty Hughes secured a point four minutes from time.
Manager Dave Challinor made two changes to the side that beat Tamworth last time out with David Morgan making his debut replacing Macauley Wilson and Dom Collins coming in for Steve Williams at centre-half.
The visitors started brightly in the sunshine at The CNG Stadium however it was Harrogate who had the ball in the net after just five minutes when Ainge tapped home a loose ball but it was ruled out for a foul on goalkeeper Rhys Taylor.
However, just a few minutes later and centre-half-turned-striker Ainge had his goal. The frontman was played through by Lloyd Kerry and although he looked off-side, Ainge kept his composure to slide the ball past Taylor into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The hosts had the wind in their sails and Lewis Turner wasn’t far away with a header from Joe Leesley’s left wing cross. Louie Swain tested Taylor with a low drive as the home side continued to dominate.
Ainge was proving a handful for the Coasters backline and skewed a strike narrowly wide after a lay-off from Liam Agnew on the edge of the area.
Fylde were presented with their first half-chance of the afternoon shortly after the 20-minute mark when Bohan Dixon headed harmlessly over from Dan Jones’ long throw.
The match sprung to life on 25 minutes when the Coasters were awarded their first league penalty off the season after Brendon Daniels’ strike was handled. Rowe stepped up and lashed the ball into the bottom right hand corner to level the scores with his 42nd goal of the season.
Harrogate replied with a chance of their own when Swain was allowed too much time down the left and thundered a vicious effort that flew a foot over the bar.
The hosts had the ball in the net for a third time when Agnew rolled home on the stroke of half-time however the linesman’s flag came to Fylde’s rescue on this occasion.
Fylde had a glorious opportunity to take the lead shortly after the break when another long throw from Jones caused havoc in the Harrogate box but Dixon’s eventual strike after a scramble was straight at keeper Peter Crook.
Leesley was the first to test Taylor in the second period when his improvised attempt with the outside of his foot on the hour mark would have found the far top corner had it not been for the quick thinking of the Fylde stopper. Parker flashed the ball across goal from the left as Harrogate enjoyed a spell of pressure.
However, the turnaround was complete moments later. Rowe played a delightful pass between the two centre-halves for Bradley who took a touch before clipping the ball into the bottom left corner.
The celebrations were cut short less than two minutes later when Harrogate grabbed the leveller. A ball over the top found Ainge unmarked – with more than a hint of offside – and the forward coolly slotted home his second of the afternoon.
The match was turned on its heads once again on 70 minutes when the hosts regained the lead. A corner from the right made its way to Ainge and he completed his hat-trick with a powerful header at the back post.
Substitute Sam Finley almost made an immediate impact when his cross from the right picked out Rowe in the centre, but his touch was off and the ball drifted narrowly wide of the post.
Chances were few and far between as the match edged towards its conclusion – Kerry launching an ambitious volley from 30 yards that flew well over.
However, just when it looked like there was no way back for the visitors, substitute Matty Hughes struck a vital leveller. Rowe cut in from the left and his powerful strike was too hot for Crook to handle and Hughes gobbled up the leftovers at the back post with a composed finish.
Harrogate: Crook, Turner, Parker, Thanoj, Shiels, Burrell, Agnew, Kerry, Ainge, Swain (Pittman 54), Leesley.
Subs not used: Emmett, Platt, Day, Elliott.
AFC Fylde: Taylor, C. Hughes (Blinkhorn 84), Maguire, Collins, Jones, Bond, Morgan, Bradley, Dixon (M. Hughes 76), Daniels (Finley 70), Rowe.
Subs not used: Wilson, Baker.
Ref: Kevin Mulraine