Bradford Park Avenue 2, AFC Fylde 2
These two sides will have to meet again on Tuesday night after Bradford Park Avenue came from behind twice to force a replay.
Brad Barnes gave Fylde the lead on 14 minutes but Chib Chilaka equalised before the break for the home side. Michael Barnes made it 2-1 with 18 minutes remaining and it looked like it would finish that way until Richard Marshall popped up to score a second equaliser for Bradford two minutes from time.
Despite the pre-match talk, Dave Challinor only made one change from the side that beat Worcester last weekend - Luke Denson coming in for the injured Dave Hankin at right back. But his side struggled to find any clear rhythm early on as Bradford took the game to their opponents.
However, both Richie Allen and Michael Potts shot over the bar before Nathan Hotte fired a fierce shot against the bar for the hosts which Tom Hannigan then had to head behind for a corner.
But three minutes on Fylde had the lead when Brad Barnes tapped in a loose ball from close range after Josh Langley had headed Mike Barnes’ corner into a crowded six yard box.
And it was very nearly 2-0 on 19 minutes when Allen, having already done the hard work to find space for his shot on the edge of the box, smacked his strike off the post and back into play.
Fylde continued to counter and halfway through the first period Brad Barnes saw an excellent strike palmed wide by John Danby and Rowe headed the resulting corner onto the bar and over.
Bradford continued to press and eventually found some luck on 37 minutes when Chilaka finally beat Ben Hinchliffe at the second attempt scrambling off the floor to lob the Fylde keeper from 12 yards and watch the ball bounce in off the post.
The Coasters started the stronger of the two sides in the second period and created a number of chances to retake the lead which were not capitalised upon.
Allen had two early chances to score – the first a cross-come-shot being caught on the line by Danby before racing through on goal only to shoot across the face of the goal and wide.
A pinpoint goal kick from Hinchliffe found its target in Danny Rowe in acres of space 30 yards out but after charging through one-on-one, Rowe could only send his effort over the bar.
Allen fired another chance over Bradford’s bar on 64 minutes and 60 seconds later, Challinor made a double substitution in Joe Booth and Caspar Hughes replacing Potts and Liam Tomsett.
And it was one of those subs, Booth, who had the next best chance, agonisingly heading against the post just a minute after coming on.
But Fylde finally retook the lead on 72 minutes from an excellent team move on the break. Rowe won the ball on the half way line and allowed Allen to take it on and race towards the box. After cutting it back to Potts, Potts then laid it off to Rowe on the left who sent a decent cross towards the back post where Mike Barnes was on hand to tap the ball home from five yards.
As the game entered the final few minutes it looked like Fylde were going to hold on for the victory but both Rowe and Mike Barnes couldn’t put the result beyond doubt – Barnes squaring his chance to Rowe rather than shoot at goal.
And from the resulting counter attack Joe Colbeck forced a good save from Hinchliffe who had to palm the ball over his bar resulting in a corner that wasn’t dealt with and Marshall was on hand to fire in Bradford’s second.
Colbeck then almost won it for the home side deep into stoppage time but diverted a good strike wide of the post.
Challinor was disappointed with the way his side let their lead slip towards the end but also unhappy at the chances his side missed earlier on: “I suppose the disappointing thing is with the chances we’ve created we should have won the game comfortably.
“To not score at one end and then to concede from a sloppy set piece is disappointing especially so near the end of a game that we wanted to win.
“Goals change games” he said. “We had a great chance early on Richie came in from a corner and they go and hit the bar. Once we do score Rowey hits the bar, Richie hits the post and if you take one of those chances it effects what they have to do.”
The lads will have to pick themselves up quickly following this disappointment and Challinor added: “I suppose it’s always difficult straight after when you’ve been in front right to the end and I suppose in the fact that we’ve won the game effectively twice and let them back into it.
“But we haven’t lost and we go again for an important game on Tuesday night, one which we’ll go to try and win.”