Eastleigh 2 AFC Fylde 2: Coasters let two-goal lead slip as winless league run stretches to 10 games
AFC Fylde couldn’t hold on to claim all three precious points at Eastleigh, despite having a healthy two-goal lead at half time.
The Coasters reverted to the team that started their last National League clash against Boreham Wood, with four changes to the side which won at Dorking in the FA Trophy on Saturday.
Jamie Proctor and Tom Walker were among those recalled to the starting line-up and they combined in the 32nd minute to give the Coasters the lead in Hampshire.
It followed good work from latest signing Tom Miller, who had come on in place of the injured Andy Taylor 20 minutes in.
He found Proctor in space in space in the final third and the striker did well to judge the overlapping run of Walker, sliding him in one-on-one with Eastleigh goalkeeper Max Stryjek.
Walker finished with a fantastic left-footed effort, curling his shot into the bottom corner, just beyond the reach of the Eastleigh keeper.
Following an early injury for Eastleigh’s Udoka Godwin-Malife, eight minutes of first-half stoppage time were indicated and the Coasters capitalised on this.
It was the combination of Walker and Proctor which unlocked the Eastleigh defence once again, with Walker this time turning provider.
Drifting in off the left wing, Walker picked out Proctor on the edge of the box and the Rotherham United loanee had time to set himself before firing a fantastic effort low into the bottom left corner for his first Fylde goal.
After a stop-start half, the Coasters had seemingly found the clinical edge they had lacked in recent league games and went in much the happier of the two sides.
The Coasters started the second half on the front foot and went close to making in 3-0, when Ryan Croasdale’s first-time effort looked destined to curl into the top right corner.
Stryjek clambered across to make a fantastic save, denying the midfielder and keeping his side in the game.
The hosts halved the deficit on 52 minutes, after Croasdale failed to deal with a ball in the box.
It was easy for winger Sam Smart to pick out a blue shirt and Spitfires captain Danny Hollands pounced to fire home from inside the penalty area.
Galvanised by the goal and with the home support cheering them on, Eastleigh pushed for the equaliser.
Coasters’ captain Lewis Montrose can perhaps count himself lucky not to have been sent off after a rash tackle in midfield, which triggered a mass confrontation.
Heading into the last 20 minutes, the Coasters looked to defend their lead but when Smart darted into the box he was bought down by Luke Burke.
On-loan forward James Alabi stepped up and coolly slotted the spot-kick past Sam Hornby, levelling the game.
In the final five minutes, both sides had chances to win the game.
Substitute Dan Bradley and Proctor both went close for Fylde, who let out a sigh of relief when Hollands’ late strike crashed off a post, and Cavaghn Miley’s attempt on the rebound sailed over.
The final whistle came and the Coasters were made to settle for a point, stretching their winless run in the league to 10 games.
They remain third-bottom and are six points from safety ahead of Maidenhead United’s visit to Mill Farm on Saturday.
FYLDE: Hornby, Taylor (Miller 24), Byrne, Whitmore, Burke, Montrose, Croasdale, Walker (Kosylo 80), Haughton (Bradley 45), Williams, Proctor; subs not used: Lavercombe, Philliskirk
EASTLEIGH: Stryjek, Partington, Green, Smart, Payne, Boyce, Barnett, Miley, Hollands, Scrimshaw (Alabi 69), Godwin-Malife (Bearwish 7); subs not used: McKnight, Flitney, Scorey
Referee: Matthew Russell