AFC Fylde’s FA Cup dream is over for another season despite producing an excellent performance away to Plymouth Argyle on Saturday afternoon.
A goal in either half ended any hopes of a major cup upset for The Coasters with Peter Hartley and Marvin Morgan converting from two corners to send the League Two side through to Round Two.
Fylde created many decent chances and hit The Pilgrims on the break on a number of occasions but came up against a fine goalkeeper in Luke McCormick, tipped by many as the best in their division.
Manager Dave Challinor changed his side’s formation to a more defence-minded 4-2-3-1 with Liam Tomsett partnering Caspar Hughes in front of the back four in place of the suspended Bradley Barnes, meaning Luke Denson earned a start at right back and centre back Tom Hannigan proudly led The Coasters out as Captain.
And it seemed to work for the first 25 minutes or so as Fylde dealt well with the long diagonal passing movement from Plymouth and both sides created good chances to claim the opening goal.
Denson curled an early free kick over McCormick’s bar before Ollie Norburn’s double strike failed to trouble Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal a minute later.
With only twelve minutes on the clock, Mike Barnes won his side a corner when Norburn had to turn his cross behind the line but Danny Rowe could only head Barnes’ cross over the bar from the resulting set piece.
Reuben Reid had a gilt-edged chance to snatch the lead for the favourites on 21 minutes when he pounced on a poor clearance by Hiinchliffe but after controlling the ball he could only hit the side netting under pressure from Hannigan’s covering challenge.
Denson came to Fylde’s rescue seven minutes later diverting a loose ball over his bar for a corner after some good passing movement around the box almost saw the ball fall kindly for Reid to take a shot on goal.
But the first goal came from that corner as it was swung in towards the back post for Hartley to head in from close range after losing his marker as he ran into the six yard box.
Hinchliffe was forced into a decent save from a bullet of a strike from centre back Lee Cox soon after but within minutes Richie Allen came agonisingly close to levelling the tie just five minutes after falling behind.
Liam Tomsett sent an excellent searching ball over the Plymouth back three which allowed Allen to race onto, go one-on-one with McCormick only to send his shot narrowly wide of the left post.
Then, two minutes before the break, Mike Barnes was thwarted by the Argyle stopper when he was played through one-on-one by an excellent long ball from Allen only to fire his shot straight at McCormick’s chest and out for a corner.
Both keepers were to be tested again late in the half but, as neither were beaten, the score remained 1-0 to the home side at the break.
If Fylde were guilty of sitting too deep at times in the first half, they were certainly the opposite in the second as they went in search of an equaliser that most of the 5,153 crowd would not have begrudged them.
Allen could have done better with an early Barnes cross only to deflect it over the bar from 12 yards with his first-time shot before Danny Rowe went for glory with a speculative strike from 30 yards which was comfortably blocked by a defender inside his own area.
There was another hair-raising moment for Fylde on 55 minutes though as Hinchliffe had to parry a strike off his line under pressure in a goal-mouth scramble before defusing the pressure by smothering a decent shot from Morgan.
And just after the hour, Allen came close once again volleying Liam Tomsett’s flick-on inches wide of the post.
The next five minutes or so saw Plymouth take control winning a free kick which Tyler Harvey sent wide but Fylde substitute Danny Lloyd did win successive corners with two decent strikes which were well defended.
Nothing came of either of those set plays and with 21 minutes to, a sucker punch of a goal was scored by Morgan from another Plymouth corner which had the Fylde defence scrambling to deal with. And because they couldn’t Morgan was on hand to head in from just two yards to all but seal the victory.
Full credit to The Coasters though as they never gave in and played some of their best football after falling two goals behind.
On 72 minutes Allen surged forward with Lloyd for company free to his right, and despite cries from his team mate to lay him off for what would surely have been a certain goal to get Fylde back in the game, Allen opted to go it alone and was closed down by two defenders before being able to get a shot off on the edge of the box.
Three minutes later, Lloyd almost scored when he met Barnes’ low cross at the front post but his cheeky back heel went inches wide of the goal.
And then, on 78 minutes, Lloyd was played in by Allen this time only to see his shot hit a defender’s elbow and despite protests from him and a couple of team mates no penalty was given and Plymouth’s two goal lead remained.
Fylde continued to create chances throughout the final ten minutes, but try as they might, Allen, Lloyd and even Josh Langley couldn’t find the target for even a consolation on what was dubbed the biggest day in the club’s recent history.
Plymouth Argyle: McCormick, Mellor (O’Conner 46), Cox, Nelson (C), Norburn, Reid, Morgan, Kellett, Harvey (Thomas 74), McHugh, Hartley; Subs not used: Bittner, Alessandra, Blizzard, Allen, Bentley, O’Connor.
GOALS: Peter Hartley (29), Marvin Morgan (69)
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Denson, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan (C), Hughes, Tomsett, Rowe (Potts 58), J. Allen (Lloyd 66), M. Barnes, R. Allen; Subs not used; Dootson, Booth, Eckersley, Charles.
AFC Fylde MOM: Richie Allen