Seven summers ago these two sides were split by six levels on the football pyramid. In May 2008 Stockport County beat Rochdale 3-2 at Wembley to win promotion to Football League One via the Play-off Final while in the same month The Coasters also won at Wembley, winning the FA Vase Final thanks to a 2-1 win over Lowestoft Town as well as winning promotion to the North West Counties Premier Division in the same season.
The manner in which the two sides have gone through the leagues since then are incredible in their own rights to say the least but they met at Kellamergh Park in a very entertaining Conference North encounter which may not have had the goals but certainly had the chances.
Danny Lloyd caused havoc on the right side for Fylde early on and was easily the best player on the pitch in the early stages. He was very unlucky to see his effort sail wide on six minutes after squirming through three defenders to find space.
Former Curzon Ashton striker Kristian Dennis and teammate Chris Sharp failed to find the target a minute later for the visitors in their first meaningful attack on the Fylde goal.
It was a true midfield battle with both sides playing entertaining football across the park but neither side creating a lot going forward. However, Lloyd saw another chance go begging after great build-up play between Allen, Sumner and new signing Josh Wilson playing him through but he could only shoot wide with his weaker right foot on 32 minutes.
Wilson got an attempt on goal himself four minutes later but he couldn’t keep Lloyd’s cross on target with his header.
Three minutes before the break County won a corner and Steve O’Halloran should have scored for County but Ben Hinchliffe managed to clear his header off the line before the danger was cleared by the Fylde defence.
Following another County corner right on half time Richie Allen broke from inside his own box to race down the left wing, ride the challenge from Dennis, race into the area but agonisingly pulled his shot inches wide of the right post.
The second period continued in the same gusto with Fylde’s best player, full back Caspar Hughes, constantly breaking down the right, and Jamie Milligan and Dennis pushing their team forward on numerous occasions.
It was Dennis’ strike five minutes into the half which had Hinchliffe making a decent save to deny him a goal before Bradley Barnes played the ball out wide to Hughes and he fed Michael Barnes who had time to cut inside and force a save from Danny Hurst in the County goal.
It was proper end-to-end football for much of the second half and neither side could get the better of either goalkeeper with Allen and Wilson testing Hurst and Jamie Milligan keeping Hinchliffe busy.
With 15 minutes to go an excellent run from Hughes allowed Mike Barnes to send a decent low cross into the six yard box but Hurst managed to beat Lloyd to the ball and clear the danger and deny Fylde a certain goal.
After Allen sent another curling effort wide of the mark Tom Hannigan slid in hard on Richie Baker to see yellow but the Fylde wall stood strong to block Lee Stevenson’s 20 yard free kick.
But Michael Potts missed a huge chance with just two minutes to go when he thought he’d scored only to see Danny Gregson fly across the six yard box to block his shot on the line. And with seconds of normal time remaining Allen could have won it for the home side with a mazy run to the edge of the box only to shoot high and wide.
AFC Fylde Manager Dave Challinor felt this was a game which ended with two points being dropped by his side at full time. “We had three gilt-edged chances to score today and they should have been scored. Two of those have been one-on-ones and we haven’t forced a save from the keeper. But at the other end we kept a clean sheet which was pleasing.”
The Coasters now have another week off league football as they entertain Hednesford Town in the FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round at Kellamergh Park next Saturday afternoon.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hughes, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, B. Barnes (C), Lloyd (Booth 77), Tomsett (Potts 60), Wilson, M. Barnes (Rowe 85), Allen; Subs not used: Dootson, Denson.
YELLOW: Tom Hannigan (86)
Stockport County: Hurst, Lees, Owens, Moses, Gregson, O’Halloran, Dennis (Woolfe 90+1), Churchman, Spencer (Baker 72), Milligan (C), Sharp (Stevenson 84); Subs not used: Ormson, Fagbola.
MOM: Caspar Hughes (AFC Fylde)