Aldershot Town 1-2 AFC Fylde
Shields 75′ – Byrne 29′, Rowe 63′
AFC Fylde kick started their season with a win on the road, in a close fought opening game of the new Vanarama National League season.
With a boisterous home support behind them, the Shots started the game with high intensity, with Panayiotou and Shields working hard to create chances from the off.
Alex Whitmore was busy early on in his Fylde debut, having to work hard to keep the direct style of Aldershot suppressed.
The game was a tightly fought one, and the Coasters had to work very hard to create their chances – their first coming through forward Kurt Willoughby.
A teasing cross from Scott Duxbury caused chaos in the box, and Willoughby arrived to head it goal wards – but it bounced back off of the bar from close range, to Willoughby’s frustration.
Aldershot winger Afele Santos can count himself unlucky not to have opened the scoring soon after, seeing his low effort turned narrowly behind by the Coasters keeper James Montgomery.
This proved to be crucial, as just two minutes later, the Coasters had taken the lead – but through an unlikely source.
Neill Byrne rose highest to loop a pinpoint header into the top corner beyond Walker, after Mark Yeates’ curled cross picked out his fellow countryman.
The header didn’t have a great deal of pace on it, however in finding the top corner, it caught Walker off guard, and the Coasters found themselves ahead.
It could have been two shortly after, with Yeates again pulling the strings to make things happen, this time sending a long ball for Kurt Willoughby to chase.
A little unseated after the goal perhaps, Walker raced out to clear the ball, but it landed at the feet of Danny Rowe on the edge of the box.
Rowe took a touch before rifling it goalwards – only for him to be denied on the goal line by Fowler, who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes.
The Coasters started the second half quickly, and were very close to doubling their lead with 50 minutes on the clock.
After patient build-up play, Danny Rowe fed the ball through to Dan Bradley, who raced through and found himself one-on-one with Walker.
Bradley nudged the ball with the outside of his boot looking for Walker’s bottom left corner, however poked it just beyond the post, and giving the Shots a let off.
The Shots threatened through the likes of Santos and Mullings, with the former contesting a great battle with Fylde full-back Luke Burke.
Soon after this, and with tempers rising, Dan Bradley went some way to redeeming himself for his earlier miss, winning a penalty after being bought down during a corner.
This gave the chance for the Vanarama National League’s back-to-back Player of the Season Danny Rowe to score his first of the season.
Rowe did just that, and although Walker guessed the right direction, the penalty was low and powerful, and gave the keeper very little chance.
This wasn’t a nail in the coffin for Aldershot though, and with the home side willing them on, they soon found their way back into the game.
Connor Shields, who had worked tirelessly up front, was the man to make it happen, with his low cross shot from the left of the penalty box winding its way into the corner, beyond Montgomery.
Fylde responded with two changes, with Nick Haughton and Matty Kosylo replacing Kurt Willoughby and Mark Yeates.
The two forwards did well to stretch the game and wind down the clock, winning set-pieces and frustrating the resurgent Aldershot side.
Substitute Berkeley-Agyepong was lively in his short time for the hosts, however the Coasters held on to record a fantastic opening day win on the road.
Aldershot Town: Walker, Tinkler, Kinsella, Rance (C), O’Dwyer (Fowler 36′), Santos (Berkeley-Agyepong 66′), Rowe, Mullings, Shields, Panayiotou (Chislett, 78′), Finney.
Subs: Whittingham, Eyoma, Fowler.
AFC Fylde: Montgomery, Duxbury, Byrne, Whitmore, Burke (Philliskirk 84′), Craigen, Croasdale, Yeates (Haughton 76′), Bradley, Rowe, Willoughby (Kosylo 76′).
Subs: Jameson, Williams.