AFC Fylde fought their way back to the top of the Vanarama Conference North table thanks to a solitary goal from Danny Lloyd seven minutes from time away to Bradford Park Avenue.
Substitute Matt Blinkhorn made the goal after surging through from half way to play a sublime ball into the box for Lloyd to race onto and shoot past Bradford keeper John Danby.
It was a slow start to the match but the home side enjoyed much of the early pressure. Joe Colbeck couldn’t keep his header on target under pressure from Adam Sumner 12 yards out and the ball fizzled away for a goal kick in the fourth minute.
Danny Rowe hit the wall with a 22-yard free kick which was won when Lloyd was pushed to the ground by Sam Patterson on 11 minutes and soon after Luke Dean’s through-ball was too much for Colbeck to chase and that went out for another goal kick.
Rowe then had another chance to give Fylde the lead on 18 minutes when Richie Allen’s low cross wasn’t cleared and he smacked a shot off Chris Howarth which went wide for a corner which unfortunately came to nothing.
Josh Wilson then came close to opening the scoring three minutes later but his half volley on the turn from Rowe’s flick-on flew inches wide of John Danby’s left post.
And Rowe came even closer to a goal on 27 minutes after Ben Hinchliffe’s long punt upfield eventually fell to him to fire a ferocious shot against the left post and back into play.
Long balls were the game so far and another long, deep cross from Sumner was caught by Danby on his line under pressure from Wilson with half an hour gone.
Lloyd then though he was brought down inside the six yard box going for another Sumner cross towards the back post but referee Michael Salisbury let play carry on.
Then, as the half looked to be drawing to a close, Richard Marshall tested Hinchliffe with a long range strike which the Fylde keeper was equal to and in stoppage time Simon Ainge’s header saw the same outcome.
The early part of the second half saw Fylde come out stronger and within five minutes Danby had to be at full stretch to pluck Allen’s looping cross towards Lloyd out of the air moments before Lloyd hit the cross bar with a decent strike which had Danby beaten.
Rowe then saw a header saved by the Bradford keeper but it looked to be sailing narrowly wide anyway.
Then, on 54 minutes, Bradford had their first shout for a penalty when a Fylde player looked to have handled but Mr Salisbury played on.
That started a decent run of possession, and chances for the home side starting with Colbeck’s header which he sent wide before Avenue’s top scorer Chib Chilaka saw a shot deflected for a corner.
Just after the hour mark, Richard Marshall sent a low drive towards goal but Hinchliffe had it covered and saved comfortably.
Chilaka then tried to claim another penalty for a hand ball against Langley, but he was deemed to have pushed the Fylde defender over in the build up and Fylde won a free kick instead on 68 minutes.
Possession and chances then fell for Fylde, most notably Lloyd, who saw two decent chances go awry – the first on 76 minutes saw his shot on the turn well saved by Danby before his second three minutes later was scuffed high and wide of the goal.
With nine minutes remaining Lloyd was played in Wilson but Danby raced out to block his attempt but his hard work paid off on 83 minutes when, from Blinkhorn’s hard work, he beat Danby to the ball and was able to fire it past the Avenue keeper.
There was still time for the home side to cause a few problems in the Fylde box but efforts from Dean and Marshall were well saved by Hinchliffe.
As it stands, The Coasters moved top of the table by a single point having played a game more than Barrow with a trip to Harrogate for their final away game of the season to come on Saturday.
Bradford Park Avenue: Danby, Howarth (Barraclough 85), Priestley (Lever 90+1), Marshall, Ainge (C), Qualter, Colbeck, Dean (Colley 89), Chilaka, Patterson, King; Subs not used: Price, Walker.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Denson, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan (Hughes 55), B. Barnes (C), Baker, Wilson, Rowe (Blinkhorn 74), Lloyd (Charles 90+2), Allen; Subs not used: Booth, Tomsett.
GOAL: Danny Lloyd (83)
MOM: Danny Lloyd
REFEREE: Michael Salisbury
STATS (AFCF First):
SHOTS ON – 5/4
SHOTS OFF – 5/5
CORNERS – 3/8
OFFSIDES – 1/1
FOULS CONCEDED – 8/5
YELLOWS – 0-0
REDS – 0-0