Nick Haughton netted his sixth goal of the campaign as the Coasters secured a point in a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Kettering Town on Saturday afternoon.
The Coasters travelled to Latimer Park in search of a fifth consecutive victory in the National League North, and Jim Bentley made two changes to the team that started in Monday’s victory over Southport FC. Nick Haughton returned to the starting line-up with Sam Osborne dropping to the bench, while an illness to Joe Piggott presented Jack Sampson with the chance to lead the Coasters line.
With Nick Haughton identified as the in-form player prior to kick-off, it took him just six minutes to head us into an early lead and claim his sixth goal in five games. A clever reverse pass from Luke Burke released Ben Tollitt down the right, and his pinpoint cross was glanced home by an unmarked Haughton.
Riccardo Calder registered Kettering’s first attempt on goal, but his ambitious 30-yard strike was watched wide by Fylde goalkeeper Chris Neal.
Two minutes later and Neal had to use all of his experience to hold onto a fierce drive from Lamine Sherif 25-yards from goal.
With Kettering in the ascendency, their pressure resulted in Callum Powell winning a penalty, after Stephen Dobbie brought him down inside the area. Powell dusted himself down and slotted past Neal with a well-taken penalty kick.
Both teams struggled to find any real rhythm following the equaliser, but Powell continued to grow into the game and it was he who struck a wonderful free-kick off the upright on the hour mark, with Neal well beaten.
Ten minutes later, Luke Conlan drove forward and was found by Stephen Dobbie on the edge of the 18-yard box, but he dragged his strike well off target, despite being positioned to do a little better.
As the half drew to a close, Liam Nolan was awarded a yellow card for a late challenge on Poppies skipper Connor Kennedy.
HT: Kettering 1-1 AFC Fylde
It was a slow start to second-half proceedings, before Haughton and Dobbie sprung the Coasters into life on 56 minutes. Conlan’s well-timed pass into Haughton allowed the goalscorer to slide in Dobbie, but Jackson Smith got down well to deny the Scotsman his third goal in as many games.
Kettering hit the woodwork for the second time in the game, after a long throw found Luke Ward, and his first-time effort crashed off the inside of the post and away.
Fifteen minutes later and Powell found some room 30-yards out, and he was once again denied by the woodwork, to the relief of the travelling Fylde fans.
With five minutes remaining, Fylde put everything into finding a last-gasp winner and Haughton almost grabbed it. More good work from Tollitt down the right-hand side saw the winger cruise past his defender and pull the ball back to the penalty spot, but an unfortunate bobble meant that Haughton couldn’t keep his shot down.
In the final moments, it took an outstanding save from Neal to deny the dangerman Powell, diving low to his left to beat away another powerful drive.
The referee blew time on an entertaining game, with neither side able to find that all-important winner.
FT: Kettering Town 1-1 AFC Fylde
Kettering Town: Smith, Barrett, Calder, Ward, Johnson, Dyche, Powell, Kennedy (C), Stones (Diakesse 86’), Sherif, Neal
Subs Not Used: Sheriff, Ofusu, Smith, Perry
AFC Fylde: Neal, Burke (Obi 65’), Conlan, Whitmore (C), Stott, Joyce, Nolan (Perkins 58’), Tollitt, Haughton, Dobbie (Holland-Wilkinson 78’), Sampson
Subs Not Used: Jones, Osborne