AFC Fylde took charge at the top National League North table with three massive points following a 3-2 victory over Darlington FC at Mill Farm.

Things got off to a miserable start for the home side when after Jacob Hazel was brought down inside the penalty area, David McNamara pointed to the spot, leaving Andrew Nelson to convert from 12 yards.

Fylde drew level through Siya Ligendza after he latched onto Alex Whitmore’s long ball upfield and chipped over Tommy Taylor, but it didn’t last long, as Nelson grabbed a second from close range shortly after.

After the break, the task that was set to the Coasters was to come from behind, and they did. Luke Charman smashed one into the top corner of the net from a corner before Joe Rowley came off the bench to secure a big three points for the Coasters.

Adam Murray made three changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Buxton in midweek, with Emeka Obi, Luke Conlan & Connor Barrett replacing Harry Davis, Jordan Cranston & Dan Pike.

It was a quiet and average start to proceedings, with the Coasters looking to build through the thirds and create an opening, which they nearly did through Connor Barrett, who struck wide from inside the area.

When the Coasters had the opportunity to test Tommy Taylor in the Darlington goal, it was Nick Haughton that did when he picked up a loose ball around 20 yards from goal and forced the shot-stopper into a good save to his right.

However, against the run of play, Alun Armstrong’s side broke from a Fylde corner through Jacob Hazel and won a penalty for the opener.

Hazel was left one on one against Chris Neal before shimmying to his right and going down under a challenge from the Coasters ‘keeper, with David McNamara then pointing to the spot. Nelson stepped up and sent Neal the wrong way.

The Coasters looked to respond straight away after Barrett made his way down the line with pace and crossed into Charman for a header that found Luke Conlan in the six-yard box, but his overhead kick rattled the bar.

Murray’s side did find the leveller moments later, though. Whitmore found the run of Ligendza with a long ball upfield, who was met by Taylor in the Darlington goal, but clever play from Ligendza saw him chip the ball over him and into the net.

Darlington made sure they let the Coasters know they were in a game, but after what appeared to be a foul on Emeka Obi as he was dragged to the ground, Hazel pounced and squared to Nelson free at the back post for him to tap in.

As the last seconds of the half approached, Fylde almost drew back level. Haughton’s free-kick to the back post was hooked back across goal by Whitmore, and following a deflection off a Darlington shirt, Taylor somehow managed to claw the ball off the line and away.

Half-Time: AFC Fylde 1-2 Darlington FC

The home side made the start to the second half that Adam Murray would have wanted after a corner towards Obi at the back post was headed at goal by the towering centre half and saved by Taylor before Charman lashed home from close range.

Fylde proved to be the better side so far in the second half, and they made their dominance count.

A lovely passage of play allowed Danny Philliskirk to switch play out wide to Barrett, who beat his man to cross into Charman. He flicked into the feet of Rowley, and he turned in with his first shot of the game.

Darlington were left to throw the kitchen sink at the game in the end, with Hazel attempting to lead the charge forward as he blasted over from the edge of the box, but Fylde did enough and celebrated a fantastic comeback with three huge points.

Full-Time: AFC Fylde 3-2 Darlington FC    

AFC Fylde: Neal; Obi, Whitmore, Bird (65’ Pike); Conlan, Barrett (83’ Cranston); Philliskirk, Whitehead; Haughton, Charman; Ligendza (47’ Rowley).

Unused subs: Davis, Hatfield. 

Darlington FC: Taylor; Sukar, Wheater (83’ Mondal), Cooper, Hedley; Purver, Moke (69’ Liddle), Newall, Rivers; Nelson (61’ Felix); Hazel.

Unused Subs: Brookwell, Rose.