Hednesford 3 AFC Fylde 3 (Hednesford win penalties)

Michael Barnes
Michael Barnes
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AFC Fylde suffered the heartache of a penalty shootout defeat going down 3-1 to Hednesford.

Fylde’s goalkeeper had earlier scored from 60 yards to send the game into extra-time.

The Coasters hit the bar four times in extra-time and couldn’t find a killer finish in the dying seconds.

Matty Blinkhorn gave Fylde a first-half lead, Hednesford struck back in the second half to go ahead thanks to goals from Elliott Durrell and Dave Macpherson but a stunning 60-yard free-kick from goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe equalised two minutes into stoppage time to send the game into extra-time.

Hednesford added a third as Durrell slotted home a dubious penalty in the 97th minute but in first-half stoppage-time Adam Farrell fired home from a goalmouth scramble to level it again.

Blinkhorn’s goal on 25 minutes arguably came against the run of play but it had a huge effect on the visitors as it visibly lifted the whole side. Cooke sent a free-kick into the mixer and the ball was deflected into Blinkhorn’s path and he volleyed in from 10 yards.

Durrell equalised for the home side – Harry Winter gave away a silly free-kick and Durrell smashed home from a goal mouth scramble.

Hednesford had a big shout for a penalty on the hour which was waved away by referee Mr Hilton and then Barnes and Blinkhorn tried in vain to restore Fylde’s lead but couldn’t get past a resolute home defence.

Jamey Osborne and Durrell forced a couple of good saves from Hinchliffe soon after but Hednesford took the lead with 20 minutes to go – another goalmouth scramble combined with some poor defending allowed Macpherson the last touch two yards out.

After Durrell and Luke Denson fired wide for either side late on it took something unbelievable to turn the game on its head again.

Two minutes into stoppage time Fylde won a free-kick 10 yards inside their own half and goalkeeper Hinchliffe told everyone to get in the box and he launched a huge kick forward which bounced over his opposite number and into the goal to make it 2-2.

Into extra-time and Hednesford started strong again and on 97 minutes had restored their lead through a penalty given for a tug on a shirt which Durrell easily dispatched to make it 3-2.

It wasn’t over there though as James McCarthy and then Barnes smacked efforts against the same post within seconds before Farrell fired home to make it 3-3 a minute into stoppage time.

It was anybody’s game in the final 15 and Fylde had the better chances – Farrell blazed over from a corner, Barnes shot inches wide, and James Dean forced a fantastic save from Dan Crane before Barnes agonisingly shot against the crossbar.

No more goals came and in the shoot-out only Denson could convert his spot kick as Farrell, Joe Booth and then Sumner missed to send the home side through to the play-off final against FC United.