AFC Fylde vs Nuneaton Borough

National League North
Sat 19th March 2016
Score: 2 - 2

Match Report

Late penalty drama cost AFC Fylde all three points in an entertaining 2-2 draw against fellow promotion hopefuls Nuneaton Town.

The visitors took the lead after just two minutes through James Clifton’s thunderbolt, but the match was turned on its head late on when Richie Baker and Josh Langley both converted from close range in the closing stages.

However, there was to be late heartbreak for the Coasters when Rob Duffy scored a last-gasp penalty after Elliott Whitehouse had been felled.

Manager Dave Challinor made just one change to the side that defeated FC United of Manchester the previous week with Caspar Hughes replacing Stephen Crainey at full-back.

The match had barely kicked off when the visitors took the lead in spectacular fashion. Former Premier League striker Marlon Harewood laid the ball off for full-back Clifton to rifle home from fully 25 yards.

Fylde looked for an immediate response and almost found it when Langley’s header was tipped over the bar.

Matty Hughes was presented with a glorious chance when he was played clean through by Sam Finley, but he inexplicably cut back on himself under pressure from Lathaniel Rowe-Turner and the clear shooting opportunity was gone.

Clifton looked to bag an unlikely brace when he closed in on the Fylde goal shortly before the 20 minute mark but his effort on this occasion was tame and wide. The hosts could have been awarded a penalty moments later when Baker seemed to be held back by Rowe-Turner but referee Billy Khatib was unmoved.

Coasters striker Danny Rowe spurned a golden opportunity firing well over from inside 10 yards after Bohan Dixon had found him with a precise through-ball.

Goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe was almost left red-faced when his weak clearance was only punched as far as Tom Elliott on the edge of the Fylde area, but his instinctive strike trickled wide of the post.

Rowe was agonisingly close to putting Fylde back on level terms shortly before the break but his vicious left-footed shot on the turn was just over the bar.

Nuneaton’s Joe Ironside raced through on goal at the other end of the pitch only to be thwarted by the legs of Hinchliffe.

Opportunities in the early stages of the second period were few and far between as Finley fizzed over a cross that was claimed by goalkeeper Jordan Smith.    

The visitors went close on the hour mark when Shane Byrne touched a free-kick on the edge of the box on to Whitehouse but his powerful effort was a good foot over the bar.

Nuneaton continued to be the team in the ascendancy and with 20 minutes to go Cieron Keane cut in from the right and curled a fine effort narrowly wide of the far post. Rowe took it upon himself to launch a free-kick from 40 yards as the Coasters scrambled for a way back but his low drive was deflected wide.

The second-half  burst to life when substitute Danny Lloyd raced down the left only to be hauled down by Clifton when through on goal. The referee was in a lenient mood and presented only a yellow card and Baker fired the resultant free-kick over the bar.

A quick Fylde breakaway moments later saw Finley take a snapshot from 18 yards however he was inches wide of the left-hand post.

The long-awaited equaliser finally arrived eight minutes from time much to the relief of the restless home support. Matty Hughes crossed from the left, Rowe headed onto the back post and the lurking Baker stabbed home at the second attempt.

And a magical comeback was complete just five minutes later – Baker delivered a deep corner into the Nuneaton box and Langley was there at the back post to bundle the ball over the line.

However, there was to be a final twist in the plot when goalkeeper Hinchliffe was adjudged to have brought down Whitehouse inside the six yard box in added time. Substitute Rob Duffy grabbed the ball and coolly converted the spotkick to earn Boro a point from the clutches of defeat.   

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes (74), Hannigan, Langley, Sumner, Baker, Barnes, Dixon (61), Finley, M. Hughes (87), Rowe.

Subs: Crainey, Charles (61), Lloyd (74), Hardy, Blinkhorn (87).

Nuneaton: Smith, Clifton, C. Keane, J. Keane, Maguire, Rowe-Turner, Elliott, Byrne, Harewood (53), Whitehouse, Ironside.

Subs: Duffy (53), De La Paz, Waite, Scott, Lane.

Ref: Billy Khatib

Att: 555