A last-gasp Alex Whitmore header saw the Coasters get a deserved three points, away at Dagenham & Redbridge on late Tuesday night in East London.
The long trip down-south saw Jim Bentley make two changes to his starting XI, following Saturday’s 0-0 draw against play-off chasing Solihull Moors. Dan Bradley and Mark Yeates replaced Kurt Willoughby and Jamie Proctor.
The game began with Tyler French whipping an early ball into the middle. A goalmouth scramble ended with Elliot Justham claiming the ball and clearing. Following the early ‘chance’ for the Coasters, Dagenham had a bit of pressure of their own. Nothing in particular came of it, but the home side did enjoy a spell of possession.
The first clear chance saw Mark Yeates pick up the ball wide, before playing an outstanding switch across the pitch for Tom Walker. He controlled well but his shot lacked composure, shooting well over the bar.
On the half-hour mark, four further chances arrived in quick succession. An effort each from Jordan Williams and Mark Yeates saw Justham save well in the Daggers’ net, before Myles Weston decided to take matters into his own hands by smashing two efforts on the Fylde goal, Lillis this time saving well both times.
Despite the best efforts of both sides, who had shown effort and a real attempt to play the ball on the floor in the fist half, we went in level.
HALF TIME: Dagenham & Redbridge 0-0 AFC Fylde
No changes were made at the break as play got back underway through Danny Philliskirk. After just a few seconds, the first yellow card of the match was shown to Sam Deering, for a high-foot on Dan Bradley.
Just moments later, in the 48th minute, AFC Fylde did take the lead. Excellent work from Williams down the wing saw him cross into the middle, where Tom Walker arrived at the back post to volley into the back of the net, putting the Coasters ahead.
On the 53rd minute, a huge moment in the match arrived. Walker bust into the box and looked destined to score before being clearly pulled down. Everyone inside the ground expected the referee to point to the spot but it was turned away, allowing the Daggers to break up the other end. They did just that, with pace, and forced Lillis into an excellent save before Whitmore then cleared as the rebound looked to be turned home. The following corner was then also cleared off the line following a goalmouth scramble!
Right on the hour mark, another big chance arrived. With a corner being whipped into the middle, Bradley arrived late and connected well. His effort went under bodies and looked to go over the line but once again the decision didn’t go in our favour.
Dagenham were now throwing everything forward in search of an equaliser. After Mitch Brundle had come within inches of equalising, Angelo Balanta was the next to try his luck, but Lillis gathered well from the low effort. Just moments later, Brundle did equalise. A low ball in from the left bounced dangerously across the middle and was turned home at the back-post to level the scores.
Four minutes were added…. AND WHAT A FOUR MINUTES THEY WERE!
Both teams looked for the winner in stoppage time. With Dagenham piling forward, the ball was played wide to Williams from the Coasters’ defence. He was brought down and a free-kick was awarded. As Luke Burke launched it into the box, and the Fylde faithful watched willingly, Ryan Croasdale kept the ball alive at the back post and Alex Whitmore was in the right place at the right time to head home, sending the 18 travelling fans into raptures.
A first win since November was ours, three massive points were on the board and we could travel back to Mill Farm full of confidence before another big match with Aldershot on Saturday.
FULL TIME: Dagenham & Redbridge 1-2 AFC Fylde