Ossett Town 0, AFC Fylde 0. Fylde left the Stade France frustrated after failing to break down a resolute Ossett side they had beaten 5-0 a fortnight earlier at Kellamergh Park.
Dave Challinor’s side dominated, but could not find the net, meaning it is only goal difference that now keeps them top of Evo-Stik First Division North after second-placed Curzon Ashton returned to winning ways against Warrington Town.
Both sides struggled to get going on a difficult Yorkshire pitch, and the first clear-cut chance went the visitors’ way after 14 minutes, when Glen Steel headed wide from a short corner.
The home side should have opened the scoring with 20 minutes gone, when Luke Richardson sent a high cross into the box for Ryan Laight to head inches over the Fylde bar.
After opening his account for Fylde in the previous weekend’s win at Prescot Cables, James McCarthy had the next effort on target, but after collecting a good pass from Joe Booth and cutting inside from the bye-line, the striker’s shot was comfortably saved.
The best chance of the opening half fell to Paul Jarvis, who scored a hat-trick when the sides last met, seven minutes before the break. Jarvis broke through the defence, but powered his shot from outside the box into the side-netting.
Within three minutes of the restart, Booth missed another gilt-edged opportunity, which could have opened the floodgates if it had gone in. Instead, Phil Doughty headed over a corner and Bradley Barnes forced an alert save from Ashley Connor, the chance created by Henry Winter after excellent passing play on the hour.
Jarvis sent a free-kick narrowly wide 66 minutes, after a foul on Booth, and substitute Michael Barnes couldn’t beat the keeper either with eight minutes left.
Fylde almost paid the price three minutes later, when all Fylde hearts were in their mouths as Lee Garside’s low, hard shot for Town flew across the face of goal.
Jarvis had another chance to steal all three points with two minutes to go, but was denied, but Andrew Milne slid in superbly to block his shot from eight yards out.
The table may be tightening up at the top, but manager Challinor was happy with the point, saying: “I’m not overly disappointed because of the way the pitch was and the way the game went. I was more disappointed in the way we wasted the first 45 minutes.
“In the second half, we played at a better tempo and put them under pressure. It’s one of those things – you’re looking for a little bit of luck and the chances you get on this kind of surface are few and far between. Ossett defended well and put men behind the ball. I think Boothy’s chance was the defining moment, and if that goes in it’s a different game.”
Curzon can replace Fylde tonight by avoiding defeat in a rearranged home game against Bamber Bridge.
AFC FYLDE: Jones, Heywood, Sumner, Doughty, Steel, B. Barnes, McCarthy, Winter, McEvilly (M Barnes 68), Booth, Jarvis; not used: Mercer, Kay, Galliers, McDonald.