AFC Fylde 1 Brackley Town 1: Report and reaction to the first game at Mill Farm
AFC Fylde had to settle for a share of the spoils from the first game at their new Mill Farm home.
The visitors looked like spoiling the party when they took the lead through Lee Ndlovu but debutant defender Steve Williams nicked a late equaliser to maintain Fylde’s unbeaten start in National North.
Coasters boss Dave Challinor made just one change to the side that beat Telford United on the opening day, with summer signing Williams coming in for centre-half Dom Collins.
Fylde got off to a lively start, when Danny Holmes broke down the right and fired a low strike that was turned around a post by Brendon Daniels
Towering midfielder Bohan Dixon was presented with a brace of quickfire chances, firstly seeing his shot from 20 yards deflected wide before hooking an effort off-target from the resultant corner.
Alex Gudger responded for the visitors when he ran powerfully to meet a corner. However, he got too much on his strike, which looped over the bar.
The deadlock was broken on 15 minutes in disappointing fashion for the hosts. Glenn Walker whipped in a dangerous cross to the far post and Ndlovu scrambled the ball home.
Four minutes later and the Coasters spurned a glorious chance to level. The usually reliable Danny Rowe latched on to a ball over the top, nicked it past the keeper but took a touch too many and a defender got back to head off the line.
Fylde were struggling to find their feet early on at their new home, and despite enjoying the lion’s share of the possession they couldn’t create any more openings in the first half-hour.
Perseverance from Daniels, after his strike from distance was blocked, earned him a second bite at the cherry but he couldn’t get enough on his header under pressure and it rolled to the goalkeeper.
Brackley captain Gareth Dean went for the spectacular as the half drew to a close as his fired an ambitious volley well over Rhys Taylor’s bar.
Fylde looked out of sorts after the break and the visitors almost capitalised when Adam Walker latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the area and fired narrowly over.
The forward was presented with an even better chance a moment later, when a cross from the right found him unmarked at the back post, but Taylor pulled of a sensational save to prevent a second goal.
Ndlovu had sights on doubling his tally when he broke into the Fylde box on the hour but lashed his strike well over.
The hosts had their first real glimpse of goal in the second period when a telling cross from left-back Tom Kennedy found Rowe in the box, but after taking a touch the frontman’s volley lacked purchase.
Dixon made inroads down the right with 15 to play but no- one could get a decisive touch on his inviting low cross and the ball drifted harmlessly out.
Fylde were starting to turn the screw, and after goalmouth scramble Rowe’s snapshot from eight yards was well saved.
A well-deserved equaliser finally arrived on 81 minutes, when Daniels whipped in a typically dangerous corner from the left and Williams steamed in to head home.
There was only one team searching for a late winner and Josh Langley wasn’t far away with a close-range header from Daniels’ free-kick.
The elusive winning goal evaded Fylde as Daniels fired low at Dan Farrell in the Brackley goal. The keeper spilled the powerful effort and James Hardy was inches from connecting with the follow-up.
AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor praised his side’s fightback against Brackley but was disappointed not to take all three points.
“It’s obviously good to not lose the first game at the new stadium,” he said. “The ideal scenario was to have performed better and won but it wasn’t to be. I knew it would be a tough game and we started really brightly.
“For 15 minutes we were camped in their half, but it just shows how difficult it is when you concede goals and give teams something to hold on to.
“They were organised and difficult to break down, and it became a very frustrating afternoon but we kept going.
“We missed two glorious chances in the first half, two open goals really. We know that if we can get our noses in front teams have to open up.
“We know we can play a lot better and we will play an awful lot better. We’re still adapting to a different training regime and we’ll continue to evolve.
“It may take a while and I accept that, but I can’t accept it for long when we’ve got to pick up results.
“Undoubtedly we will be a better team in two months but we’ll probably have lost 15 points by then . We need to concentrate on picking up results.
“If we win at Altrincham on Tuesday this will look like a decent draw, so that’s where our mindset is – we’ll recover, look forward to Tuesday and try to win there.”
AFC Fylde: Taylor, Holmes, Langley, Williams, Kennedy, Bond (C. Hughes 60), Baker (Hardy 60), Dixon (Newell 77), M. Hughes, Daniels, Rowe.
Subs not used: Collins, Blinkhorn.
Brackley: Farrell, Myles, Gudger, Byrne, Graham, Dean, Walker, Armson (Lowe 77), Ndlovu (Moyo 84), Diggin (Jeacock 84), Walker; Not used: Dias, Pitt.
Ref: Marc Edwards