AFC Fylde 4-2 Hartlepool United
Rowe 3′, Kerr OG 56′, Rowe 70′, Walters 90′ – Donaldson 46′, Hawkes 75′
The Coasters recorded three points at Mill Farm, on a blustery night where the elements caused havoc with the night.
Immediately on the attack, Haughton found space, unleashing a ferocious effort that just crept past the post, before moments later Philliskirk made the most of an under-hit pass, almost forcing the ball home.
This was a sign of things to come, as just moments later, Danny Rowe found the net with his 24th of the season, twisting and turning before curling a low effort beyond Scott Loach.
Just two minutes later, it could and should have been two, as Tunnicliffe met Haughton’s whipped cross, but sent his towering header wide.
Hartlepool looked to equalise with long balls, assisted with a howling wind, with Luke James firing an effort that tested Lynch.
Another early chance came the Coasters way, as Rowe did well to glide out to the left, before clipping a cross into the path of Reid – but he got his close-range header wrong.
The Monkey Hangers worked their way into the game, with Molyneux and Kabamba causing problems with their pace.
The latter almost equalised, after getting the better of Tunnicliffe and making the most of a through ball – but his powerful drive was equalled by Jay Lynch.
Pools were happy to try and use the weather to their advantage, sending long, awkward balls into difficult areas, hoping for the wind to cause further problems.
A high swirling corner dropped into the Fylde penalty area causing confusion and chaos not once but twice, with Tunnicliffe eventually doing enough to take control and remove the danger.
A second goal nearly came for The Coasters when Haughton whipped in a curling corner, but it was scrambled off the line, and the half-time whistle came.
The teams back out, and the 60mph wind hurtling along, it was the visitors who started fast this time.
Donaldson found himself thirty yards from goal without much pressure on him, and decided to try his luck from distance – and his luck was certainly in.
His effort, helped by the swirling wind, bounced awkwardly in front of Jay Lynch, and carried all the way in, much to the delight of the travelling fans.
Hartlepool continued to push on, but moments later, an incisive Fylde breakaway was met with a massive slice of their own luck this time.
Arlen Birch’s searching cross looked to find Danny Rowe, and was instead met by Fraser Kerr, who turned it into his own net, restoring Fylde’s lead.
This seemed to swing things back the way of the Coasters, as Danny Rowe’s superb deep cross found Haughton at the back post who, sliding in, forced Loach into a reaction save, narrowly keeping it out.
The Pools were level once again, after yet another massive slice of misfortune for Lynch. Hawkes whipped corner was buffeted by the wind, and seemed to catch Lynch out – as it ended up over the line.
The elements weren’t done playing their part just yet though, as Fylde mounted another attack looking for the winner.
Crawford’s deflected cross flew into the air and swirled wildly back into the box, landing perfectly for Rowe to nod it home, beyond what can only have been a bemused Loach.
The Pools looked to hit back, with the lively Molyneux causing Francis-Angol problem, but ultimately it was two Fylde substitutes that saw out the game.
Tasdemir’s brilliant run saw him cut in off the left and guide a shot goalwards, only for it to bounce back off of the post and into the path of Lewis Walters, who made no mistake firing in his first goal for the Coasters.
The game eventually came to its conclusion, much to the joy of the defenders and goalkeepers no doubt, on an evening where the wind caused havoc.
“It was really, really tough, and the wind had a huge effect,” said manager Dave Challinor. “It’s one of those games where you have to be adaptable and do what you can to win.”
“It affected us in terms of the goals we conceded, and it was a banana skin, but the lads did a really good job in overcoming it.”
“We spoke around how we wanted to play, but sometimes it’s not doable. It was a game that was decided about who got the ball in the penalty area the most often. It wasn’t pretty, but ultimately it’s about getting results.”
AFC Fylde: Lynch, Francis-Angol, Byrne, Tunnicliffe, Birch, Croasdale, Philliskirk (Walters 78), Crawford, Reid (Tasdemir 55’), Rowe, Haughton (Brewitt 90’).
Subs unused: Hemmings, Odusina.
Hartlepool: Loach, Kioso (Noble 86’), Kerr, Edgar, Anderson, Featherstone, Donaldson, Molyneux, Hawkes, James, Kabamba.
Subs: Kitching, Amos, Hawkins, Muir.