Stalybridge Celtic 1 AFC Fylde 1
STALYBRIDGE CELTIC 1
The hosts took the lead against the run of play when Matty Hughes fired home shortly before the break before a goal of the season contender from Fylde’s Sam Finley levelled the scores.
Dave Challinor made just one change to the side that played out a goalless draw at Brackley Town on Saturday, with Bohan Dixon recalled after suspension and getting a crack at his former club in place of Matty Hughes.
The teams spent the opening stages feeling each other out, though Fylde looked to control the possession from the off.
Captain Tom Hannigan was presented with the first opportunity of the match when Finley’s header found him unmarked on the edge of the area, but the defender’s strike was deflected over.
His centre-half partner Josh Langley then wasted a glorious chance from the resulting corner, nodding over from 10 yards.
Winger Dion Charles tricked his way into the box shortly before the 20-minute mark but his left-footed strike under pressure was tame and comfortable for Celtic goalkeeper Tony McMillan.
The deadlock was almost broken when Danny Rowe’s looped effort was missed by the goalkeeper, although Danny Wisdom was on hand to head off the line.
The loose ball again fell to Rowe but this time he was thwarted by a decent low save.
Stalybridge’s Alex Mudimu went close with a double chance, first meeting a corner from the right and then firing over from his own rebounded effort.
The woodwork was struck on 28 minutes and it was Dixon who almost came back to haunt his old club.
James Hardy danced into the area and found the towering midfielder, who was unlucky to see his first-time strike crash back off the crossbar.
Some wonderful football from the visitors on the half-hour mark almost resulted in a fabulous goal.
Almost every player had a touch before the ball found Rowe 18 yards out but his strike was agonisingly wide of the near post.
The opening goal came on the 39th minute against the run of play.
A corner from the right made its way to the back post and former Fylde defender Hughes acrobatically rifled home.
The Coasters almost made immediate amends when Finley broke through and squared the ball for Rowe to fire over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net, but the frontman was deemed offside.
The hosts came flying out of the traps after the break, bombarding the Fylde box with long balls and throws.
A fizzing cross from Adam Farrell was turned just over the bar by Chris Simm as Stalybridge looked to double their advantage.
Their second goal almost arrived on the hour mark when a corner was flicked on to Hughes, who again attempted to overhead kick the ball home. However, keeper Ben Hinchliffe was equal to the task on this occasion.
Defender Jack Higgins should have extended the home side’s lead five minutes later, when he knocked the ball wide when well placed at the back post.
Fylde finally drew level on 69 minutes with a goal of real quality.
The ball fell kindly to Finley on the edge of the area and the midfielder curled a fine strike into the top right corner of the goal.
Buoyed by his goal, Finley went for the ambitious and teed himself up for a volley that flew over the bar.
Substitute Matty Hughes was played clean through seconds later only to see his shot blocked by the goalkeeper’s legs, then Hardy’s follow-up was deflected wide for a corner as Fylde pushed for the winning goal.
Despite plenty of endeavour, the second goal proved elusive and Fylde were held to a second frustrating draw in four days.
However, the point was enough to lift a point clear of Saturday’s visitors to Kellamergh Park North Ferriby United.
Stalybridge: McMillan, Wylie, Wisdom, Hughes, Higgins, Chalmers (Wright 79), Joyce, Mudimu, Simm (McKenna 79), Farrell, Chippendale.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes (M Hughes 67), Hannigan, Langley, Sumner (Crainey 82), Barnes, Finley, Dixon (Baker 67), Charles, Hardy, Rowe.