Maidenhead United 1 AFC Fylde 1: Neill Byrne bullet earns point for Jim Bentley in first match as Coasters boss

Neill Byrne heads Fylde's equaliser at Maidenhead  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Neill Byrne heads Fylde's equaliser at Maidenhead Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

AFC Fylde had to make do with a point from Jim Bentley’s first game in charge, with Neill Byrne’s header cancelling out Josh Kelly’s acrobatic effort.

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The Coasters were unchanged for their third game in a row, with new boss Bentley sticking with the side that won at Boreham Wood on Saturday.

Jim Bentley keeps a close eye on the action in his first game as Fylde manager  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

Jim Bentley keeps a close eye on the action in his first game as Fylde manager Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

The game seemed to be going to plan in the first half as the Coasters withstood early pressure and should have taken the lead through Luke Burke.

After some patient build-up play, the energetic full-back was slipped in by Nick Haughton, but with just the keeper to beat Burke rushed his effort and fired wide.

Haughton was at the heart of proceedings in his favoured role as a central playmaker and he almost broke the deadlock for the Coasters.

Quick feet saw Haughton dart into space but he was narrowly denied a second goal of the season when his shot flew just wide.

The Coasters looked the more comfortable side, with Matty Kosylo and Jordan Williams working hard out wide to make things happen, and Haughton went close again after a gutsy run into the box by Andy Taylor but his curled effort was saved by Angus Gunn.

The second half saw a shift in momentum and the hosts got their noses in front in spectacular style just two minutes after the restart.

A corner was cleared but the ball reached Josh Kelly on the edge of the box, sitting up invitingly for him to send an acrobatic volley looping over keeper James Montgomery into the top corner of the net.

This lifted the Magpies, who kept the pressure on Fylde as the confident Kelly saw Montgomery off his line and tried to beat him again from fully 45 yards.

Slowly but surely Fylde got back into the game and on 70 minutes Williams' thunderous effort looked destined for the top left corner until the ball bounced back off the inside of the post.

But this gave Fylde belief and they were level from their next attack three minutes later.

As a player, Bentley was a centre-back with an eye for goal, so perhaps it was only fitting that the first goal of his Fylde tenure came from just such a source.

Haughton’s whipped corner was met by the towering Byrne, who angled a perfect header into the top right corner.

Dan Bradley replaced Haughton with just over 10 minutes to go and his impact was almost immediate as he headed the ball into the path of Williams, who struck wide.

But for all Fylde's late efforts, Maidenhead almost snatched victory as poor defending from a corner allowed Ryan Upward a free header which bounced off the top of the crossbar and away.

The final chance fell to Fylde's Danny Rowe but his back-post volley from Burke's fine ball was high and wide

Bentley said: "It could have been more and should have been. We looked the more capable for me.

“It’s very early days but we’ve come to win the game. I’m proud of how everyone has gone about their jobs and worked hard, which is always the minimum.

“It’s a point gained, it’s more momentum, it’s more confidence, and that’s four points from two away games, which we’ll need to back up at home to Dover on Saturday.”

Fylde remain 19th in the National League but are now four points clear of the bottom four.

Fylde: Montgomery, Taylor, Whitmore, Byrne, Burke, Croasdale, Philliskirk, Haughton (Bradley 76), Kosylo, Williams, Rowe; subs not used: Hornby, Forbes, Jameson, Yeates.

Maidenhead: Dunn, Clerima (Davies 75), Comley, Cassidy, Kelly (Mensah 83), Whitehall, Twusami, Sheckleford, Upward, Masse, Smile; subs not used: Steer, Brissett

Referee: Ryan Atkin

Attendance: 1,010