AFC Fylde 0 Stockport County 0: Full report and reaction
AFC Fylde played out their first goalless draw of the season as they shared the spoils for the second time in four days at Mill Farm.
In a game of few clear-cut chances, Sefton Gonzales spurned the best for the visitors when he hit the post from two yards out, while home striker Danny Rowe went close with a couple of dangerous set-pieces.
Kidderminster Harriers, who drew 2-2 at Fylde on Saturday, moved into second place and cut Fylde’s lead to nine points when an injury time winner sealed a 4-3 success at Tamworth last night. With eight games to play, the Harriers also have a game in hand on Fylde.
The night’s other top-of-the-table match went Fylde’s way, though, as Salford City’s late equaliser earned them a 1-1 home draw with Chorley.
Fylde manager Dave Challinor made just one change, with Matty Hughes replacing Josh Kay wide on the right.
The hosts were quickly out of the blocks, Laurence Maguire going close to opening his account for the club inside five minutes when he nodded Brendon Daniels’ corner goalwards but the defence got back to clear.
The Coasters had their opponents pegged back in the early stages and Sam Finley’s eyes lit up as a loose ball rolled into his path 30 yards from goal, though former Fylde keeper Ben Hinchliffe got down to push the shot wide.
Maguire had a second glorious chance to break the deadlock on 20 minutes but miscued his header from another dangerous Daniels inswinger and Hinchliffe saved.
Coasters midfielder Dan Bradley had a couple of decent opportunities in as many minutes as he watched a lon- range drive fly narrowly over before his snapshot inside the area was pounced upon at the second time of asking by Hinchliffe.
Stockport were edging back into the contest and were a whisker from opening the scoring when James Ball’s corner evaded everyone and flashed wide of the far post.
Play raced up to the other end of the pitch and Matty Hughes thought he had scored with a left-footed strike that was destined for the top corner until Michael Clarke headed off the line.
Top scorer Danny Rowe had his first real chance on the stroke of half-time, when his free-kick from 25 yards was tipped over by Hinchliffe.
Stockport fashioned the first opening after the break, when Ball whipped in a wicked cross from the right that was headed into the path of Sam Minihan but the right-back scuffed his shot.
Matty Hughes flashed a shot wide after beating his marker on the edge of the box, then Rowe tested his former team-mate Hinchliffe with a rasping free-kick from fully 35 yards.
Finley had a strike deflected wide as the hosts’ momentum started to build, though Fylde were given a huge let-off shortly after the hour.
Danny Lloyd’s fierce strike from the left was blocked into the path of Gonzales, who inexplicably rattled the post from two yards out.
Fylde introduced midfielder James Hardy for the final 15 minutes and his defence-splitting pass sent Hughes racing clear, but the winger’s first time poke at goal was smothered by Hinchliffe.
The unlikely figure of Caspar Hughes almost nicked it late on when his looping cross-shot from the right wing dropped inches over the bar.
Manager Dave Challinor said: “It’s not like us to draw 0-0. It was a close game. There was nothing in it.
“If someone offered us a clean sheet before the game. I’d have taken it. We’ll take the draw and we’ll move on.
“To get through those two games undefeated is pleasing.
“We always knew it was going to be a close game but in the second half I was a little bit disappointed at our decision-making.
“ It cost us a little bit and we just couldn’t find that bit of quality in the final third to create a decent opportunity.
“We’d have loved more than two points from the last two games but we’re not really dsappointed. We said at the start of the week that two points was the minimum really.
“We’ve come through the games undefeated against two tough teams. We’ll let everyone else worry about what we do and we’ll just focus on ourselves.
“I’m the sort of person that expects our rivals to go into every game and win. If they don’t it’s a bonus. We’ve just got to look at us and we are in a really good position.”
DANIEL AGNEW and CHRISTOPHER COUGHLIN
AFC Fylde: Taylor, C. Hughes, Maguire, Collins (Baker 71), Kennedy, Bond, Finley, Bradley, M. Hughes (Dixon 82), Daniels (Hardy 75), Rowe. Subs not used: Kay, Blinkhorn.
Stockport: Hinchliffe, Ross, Hampson, Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Winter, Gonzales (Duxbury 86), Ball, Lloyd (Felix 68). Subs not used: Ormson, Meppen-Walters.
Ref: Peter Gibbons