AFC Fylde continued their unbeaten start to the New Year with a 1-1 draw against Chester.
Coasters frontman Danny Rowe looked to have secured a fourth consecutive National League victory when he flicked home his 14th goal of the season, however an error at the back allowed Harry White to send Chester home with a share of the spoils.
Manager Dave Challinor made just one change from the side that won at Bromley at the weekend with Sam Finley replacing Andy Bond in the centre of the park having served his two-match suspension.
The hosts, on a fine run of form, started brightly in bitterly cold conditions at Mill Farm. The league’s top scorer Rowe saw a curling effort spin around the post via a deflection, before narrowly losing out to goalkeeper Sam Hornby in a footrace to Jordan Richards’ teasing ball.
The hosts were certainly on top in the opening stages and Jonny Smith was agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock with a rasping drive from the edge of the area that kissed the foot of the post.
A training ground corner routine from Chester picked out centre-half Jordan Gough on the edge of the box, however he got under the ball and strained a header well over.
James Jones had a great chance in the Fylde penalty box soon after when he was laid off eight yards out however his tame effort was gathered with ease by Jay Lynch.
Fylde almost pulled off a clever corner of their own when Smith’s quick thinking found home debutant Callum Chettle in acres of space in the box however his touch let him down and Jordan Tunnicliffe lashed over in the aftermath.
Full-back Richards took aim with an ambitious strike from fully 35 yards that took Hornby by surprise and took him a second attempt to claim and prevent a corner.
Midfielder Lewis Montrose glanced a header narrowly wide from Smith’s deep cross as the clocked ticked down to half-time. Blues man Lucas Dawson looped a free-kick well over as the referee brought the opening period to a close.
The visitors fashioned their best chance of the evening moments after the break when a drilled corner from the right found captain Ryan Astles unmarked in the centre but his volley from close range was straight down the throat of Lynch.
Finley managed to outmuscle Astles – twice the midfielder’s size – and sent Smith racing clear however his shot from the angle was well held by Hornby.
After a spell of pressure from Chester, it was the Coasters that made the breakthrough. Chettle delivered a delicious cross in from the left and Rowe needed just the faintest of touches on the six yard line to guide the ball into the far corner.
The goal seemed to kickstart the hosts and only a fingertip save from Hornby denied Rowe a spectacular second moments later.
Sharp defending from Tunnicliffe inside the six-yard box denied frontman White from getting a clean strike on goal as the visitors searched for a way back into the game.
Their passage back in was made all the easier with just over 20 minutes to play when Simon Grand’s mistimed header back to Lynch was intercepted by substitute Ross Hannah. Whilst Lynch did tremendously well to save at the feet of the forward, the loose ball fell kindly to White who hammered his first time strike into the open goal.
Fylde almost made an immediate reply when Rowe neatly slipped in Serhat Tasdemir who raced away before seeing his clean strike palmed away by Hornby.
Richards was providing a threat down the right and did well to burst into the Chester box, evading several challenges, however he ran out of steam and sliced his eventual shot wide of the near post.
It was one-way traffic as the match edged towards its conclusion, with Matt Blinkhorn brought on as a focal point and whilst Rowe and Richards were tasked with whipping crosses in from the right, none would drop to a white shirt.
Young attacker Tasdemir almost won it for the hosts in added time when his curling effort from the left floated over the stranded goalkeeper before skimming off the roof of the net.
AFC Fylde: Lynch, Richards, Grand, Tunnicliffe, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Finley, Chettle (Bond 73), Smith (Tasdemir 63), Muldoon (Blinkhorn 79), Rowe.
Subs not used: Burke, Stubbs.
Chester: Hornby, Kingsley, Astles, Turnbull (Hannah 61), White, Dawson, Jones, Akintunde, Shaw, Halls-Johnson, Gough.
Subs not used: Lynch, Mahon, Crawford, Roberts.
Ref: Karl Evans