Barrow 1 AFC Fylde 1: Andy Bond ensures honours end even in first game of festive double-header
The first of Fylde's two festive bank holiday clashes with the Cumbrians was a close, scrappy, end-to-end contest which ended with honours even.
The Coasters came into the game unchanged following the 2-0 win at Ebbsfleet United, while Barrow saw Kyle Jameson deputise for the injured Brian Wilson.
The hosts made a lively start and nearly took the lead in the first minute. Jack Barthram was on hand to capitalise on Zaine Francis-Angol’s slip and release Rhys Turner, whose lob looked destined to open the scoring until Luke Burke made a crucial goal-line clearance. Minutes later the Bluebirds threatened again as Turner anticipated a long ball and volleyed just over from 20 yards.
Another chance went begging when a weighted lob from Kemy Agustien found its way into the path of Jacob Blyth, who took a touch before lashing an effort wide of Jay Lynch’s far post.
Barrow were then denied a penalty when a cross appeared to strike Burke on the arm. The home side surrounded referee Rebecca Welch, who stood firm.
The Coasters were able to regroup after this, with slick passing moves beginning to play off.
The first sight of goal for The Coasters came as Arthur Gnahoua drove forward and shot over, then Andy Bond scuffed a half-volley into the ground.
Despite Barrow having the better chances, it was the Coasters who broke the deadlock seven minutes before half-time.
The ball was worked wide to Ryan Croasdale, who crossed for Bond to fire home a brilliant first-time effort.. It was the midfielder’s sixth of the season and Fylde stayed in front until half-time, perhaps against the run of play.
The Coasters knew a second goal would be needed to and their approach after the interval demonstrated this.
Tom Brewitt sent a long ball down the right channel for Gnahoua to chase. The winger crossed and Bond was again the man on the end of it, this time denied by Joel Dixon from close range,
Barrow continued to curse their luck in front of goal as centre-back Dan Jones headed against the woodwork on 54 minutes, when Fylde failed to clear a corner.
The equaliser arrived on 75 minutes after great work by full-back Rhys Norrington-Davies, who found the onrushing Jack Hindle and he beat Lynch from close range with a clever flick.
Barrow then looked the most likely to claim the three points as Hindle and Olly Dyson looked to cause problems.
Last week’s loan signing Dyson from Huddersfield Town was played through with a minute remaining but the pace of Francis-Angol thwarted the danger.
The teams meet again at Mill Farm on New Year's Day, though Fylde first visit promotion rivals Harrogate Town on Saturday.
Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Byrne, Brewitt, Francis-Angol, Montrose (Tasdemir 79), Bond, Croasdale, Gnahouoa (Williams 80), Houghton, Rowe.
Barrow: Dixon, Granite, Jones, Norrington-Davies, Jameson, Barthram, Agustien (Dyson 60), Taylor, Rooney (Kay 71), Turner, Blyth (Hindle 32); not used: Jennings, Brown
Referee: Rebecca Welch