Stockport County 1 AFC Fylde 2: Match report
Danny Rowe's sensational last-gasp free-kick earned AFC Fylde all three points which lifted them three points clear at the top of Vanarama National North.
Scott Spencer thought he had nicked a point for the hosts in added time after cancelling out Dan Bradley’s early goal, though top scorer Rowe would have the final say in an entertaining game.
Dave Challinor was forced into one change from victory over Gainsborough Trinity at the weekend, with defender Dom Collins coming in for the injured Steve Williams.
Fylde made a fantastic start in their dazzling orange shirts, dictating play with passing worthy of league leaders. However, it was the hosts who created the first real opening when Josh Amis fired narrowly wide with a snatched shot from 20 yards.
Stockport were the width of the post from taking the lead in the 13th minute. Sam Minihan cut the ball back from the byeline and John Marsden rattled the woodwork with a rasping volley.
The match was becoming an increasingly feisty affair, with both Collins and Danny Holmes cautioned for poorly timed challenges.
However, seconds after Holmes’ booking and perhaps against the run of play, the Coasters broke away and took the lead. Bohan Dixon raced through on goal and unselfishly squared to Bradley, who lifted the ball over former Coasters goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.
The record signing had the taste and rose well to James Hardy’s cross on the half-hour mark but could only nod into Hinchliffe’s arms. Rowe slammed a thunderous effort on the turn just wide moments later.
Stockport looked determined to make Fylde work for the points as they continued to pile on the pressure and Marsden was not far off with an effort from the edge of the area.
Another familiar face Danny Lloyd was hoping to come back to haunt his former employers as he powered down the left but his eventual strike was narrowly over Tony Thompson’s bar.
Dixon stretched his legs once more shortly before the break, galloping the length of the Stockport half – and past half the team – and was unfortunate to see his low strike kept out by Hinchliffe.
Dixon was running the Stockport backline ragged and was again close with a sublime curling effort that sailed a foot wide of the far post.
County’s pressure was building as the game wore on and Amis could only find the side-netting with an improvised effort from Minihan’s deep cross on the hour.
Lloyd tried his luck with an ambitious volley from 20 yards that flew just over before Stockport had their best chance of the evening.
Minihan whipped in a delightful cross to the back post and Thompson pulled off a sensational save to deny Amis at point-blank range.
Play was halted for almost 10 minutes after a nasty collision between Collins and Scott Duxbury, which resulted in the latter being stretchered off with a suspected head injury.
The stoppage in play killed the hosts’ momentum and Bradley looked to take advantage with a whipped effort from 20 yards that drifted over.
County continued to knock on the door without creating much but the fourth official ensured it was to be a nervy end for the visitors by indicating 10 minutes of added time.
Just three minutes into those 10 and Stockport finally broke Fylde’s resolve. Substitute Scott Spencer received the ball on the 18-yard line, took a touch and placed a precise strike into the bottom right-hand corner.
However, there was to be one final twist in the in the eighth minute of injury time and it sent the visiting fans in to delirium. Fylde were handed a free-kick 30 yards from goal and deadball specialist Danny Rowe stepped up to curl his 18th goal of the season into the top corner in spectacular fashion.
Challinor said: “Sometimes you make things look a little bit easier than they are. It’s a massive win for us, a massive win. Did we deserve to win? Probably not. You don’t deserve to win every game but you take what you can.”
Stockport: Hinchliffe, Ross, Duxbury (Rule 74), Montrose, Clarke, Smalley, Minihan, Stopforth, Amis (Odejayi 81), Marsden (Spencer 81), Lloyd.
Subs not used:
AFC Fylde: Thompson, Holmes, Langley, Collins, Kennedy, C. Hughes (Baker 46), Bond, Dixon, Bradley, Hardy (Jennings 77), Rowe.
Subs not used:
Ref: Aaron Jackson