Aldershot Town 1 AFC Fylde 2: Danny Rowe penalty seals opening-day win for Coasters

Danny Row slams home Fylde's winning penalty  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Danny Row slams home Fylde's winning penalty Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
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AFC Fylde kick-started their third National League season with a win on the road, Danny Rowe’s penalty sealing victory in a close-fought opening game.

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Dave Challinor’s Coasters team was much-changed from the one which had missed out on promotion in the play-off final three months earlier, with six debutants in the starting 11 and three more new recruits on the bench.

With a boisterous home support behind them, the Shots started with high intensity, as Harry Panayiotou and Connor Shields worked hard to create chances from the off.

Defender Alex Whitmore was busy early in his Fylde debut, having to work hard to keep the direct style of Aldershot suppressed.

In the tight early stages, the Coasters had to work very hard to create chances – their first falling to Blackpool-born new signing Kurt Willoughby.

A teasing cross from Scott Duxbury caused chaos in the box and striker Willoughby was frustrated to see his close-range header bounce back off the bar.

Aldershot winger Afele Santos can count himself unlucky not to have opened the scoring soon after, seeing his low effort just turned behind by new Coasters keeper James Montgomery.

This proved to be crucial as just two minutes later the Coasters took the lead, their first goal of the season coming from an unlikely source.

Centre-half Neill Byrne rose highest on 29 minutes to loop a pinpoint header beyond off-guard keeper Mitch Walker and into the top corner from a curling cross by his fellow Irishman Mark Yeates.

It could have been two shortly after, with Yeates again pulling the strings by delivering a long ball for Willoughby to chase.

A little unsettled after the goal perhaps, Walker raced out to clear but the ball only reached the feet of Rowe.

Last season’s top scorer took a touch before rifling the ball goalwards only to be denied on the goal-line by substitute George Fowler, who had only been on the pitch a matter of minutes.

The Coasters started the second half quickly and went very close to doubling their lead five minutes in.

After patient build-up play, Rowe fed Dan Bradley and he raced through to find himself one-on-one with Walker. But the Shots had a let-off as the midfielder poked his shot just wide of the bottom corner.

The hosts threatened through Santos and new signing Shamir Mullings, the former contesting a great battle with Fylde full-back Luke Burke.

As tempers rose, Bradley redeemed himself for his miss by winning a penalty when he was brought down at a corner.

This gave the league’s back-to-back player of the season Rowe a chance to score his first of the season on 63 minutes and he did just that.

Walker guessed the right direction but the penalty was low and powerful, giving the keeper very little chance.

But with the home supporters willing them on, Aldershot found a way back into the game 12 minutes later.

Shields, who had worked tirelessly up front, halved the deficit with a low cross-shot from the left of the penalty box which found the corner of Montgomery’s net.

Fylde responded with two changes, Nick Haughton and their seventh debutant Matty Kosylo replacing Willoughby and Yeates.

The two forwards did well to stretch the game and wind down the clock, winning set-pieces and frustrating the resurgent Aldershot side.

Substitute Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong was lively in his short time for the hosts but the Coasters held on for an excellent opening win to take into Tuesday’s home derby against Chorley.

Fylde: Montgomery, Duxbury, Byrne, Whitmore, Burke (Philliskirk 84), Craigen, Croasdale, Yeates (Kosylo 76), Bradley, Rowe, Willoughby (Haughton 76); subs not used: Jameson, Williams.

Aldershot Town: Walker, Tinkler, Kinsella, Rance, O’Dwyer (Fowler 59), Santos (Berkeley-Agyepong 66), Rowe, Mullings, Shields, Panayiotou (Chislett 78), Finney; subs not used: Whittingham, Eyoma.

Referee: Sam Allison

Attendance: 2,003