AFC Fylde 1-1 Bradford Park Avenue
Another late show from striker Matt Blinkhorn rescued a crucial point for AFC Fylde in a feisty encounter against Bradford Park Avenue at Mill Farm.
The visitors took a surprise lead when Danny Boshell netted from close range in the first half, however substitute Blinkhorn spared Fylde’s blushes with his second 97th minute equaliser the space of a month.
The Coasters saw their lead at the top of the National League North cut to four points following Kidderminster Harriers’ victory at Altrincham, however three points at Boston United on Saturday would guarantee the title for Fylde.
Manager Dave Challinor named the same starting line-up for the third week running.
Bradford should have opened the scoring with two gilt-edged chances inside the opening ten minutes. Oli Johnson broke into the box and put the ball on a plate for Nicky Wroe but Tom Kennedy was back in the nick of time to superbly clear off the line. The loose ball fell to Danny Bushell but, much like the first chance, his strike was deflected away from goal, this time by the head of Bohan Dixon.
Danny Rowe looked to add to his new league goalscoring record a moment later when Dan Bradley’s cross fell kindly at his feet inside the area and after shifting the ball on to his left foot, he fired narrowly wide under pressure from Ryan Toulson.
Avenue had the ball in the back of the net shortly before the 20-minute mark when Johnson’s hopeful effort from the edge of the box landed for Matt Hill to sweep home first time, however the linesman’s flag was raised.
The assistant’s flag stayed down a minute later when Andy Bond was cutely played in one-on-one with Jon Worsnop, but the goalkeeper came out on top with a fantastic reaction save.
The opportunities continued to flow for the hosts and another fine save prevented Finley from sliding the ball home from just inside the area. Dixon whistled a strike inches over from 25 yards moments later.
Bradley wasted another golden chance to take the lead ten minutes before the break when he fired over with a wild attempt after being expertly picked out at the back post by Finley.
Fylde stopper Rhys Taylor had to be on his toes on the stroke of half-time as Johnson was sent racing clean through and rushed out to smother striker’s effort.
However, seconds later the visitors broke the deadlock. Taylor made a decent save from Chris Sharp at the near post but Boshell was on hand to slot the ball into the open goal.
The Coasters kicked off the second half in a positive manner and Rowe hit one from distance that was comfortable for Worsnop as the hosts looked for a way back into the game.
Bradford still looked dangerous on the break and Taylor had to get down low to his right to keep out Gavin Rothery’s precise effort.
Fylde clearly hadn’t given up by any stretch of the imagination as Bradley lashed a vicious drive narrowly wide of the post on the hour.
Proceedings were still end to end and Josh Langley had to sprint back to clear the ball off the line again after Sharp had poked a strike towards goal.
Challinor’s side continued to press for a leveller and Rowe glanced a header narrowly wide from Bradley’s right wing cross as the clock ticked down.
The introduction of winger Brendon Daniels added some quality delivery from the left and another killer ball in with ten minutes to play somehow evaded everyone in the area.
Bradford were reduced to ten men with five minutes to play after Jake Hibbs received his second yellow card in as many minutes for a lunge on Tom Kennedy.
And then, deep into the nine minutes of added time, there was to be late redemption for the Coasters. Bond whipped in a sublime cross from the left and Blinkhorn rose highest to nod home into the bottom right hand corner to send Mill Farm into raptures.
AFC Fylde: Taylor, C. Hughes (Blinkhorn 78), Langley, Collins (Daniels 59), Kennedy, Bond, Morgan, Finley, Bradley, Dixon (M. Hughes 46), Rowe.
Subs not used: Baker, Kennedy.
Bradford PA: Worsnop, Toulson, Hill, Wroe, Killock, Knowles (Chippendale 82), Hibbs, Bushell, Sharp, Johnson (Nowakowski 66), Rothery.
Subs not used: Payne, Hall, Spencer.
Ref: Darren Strain