Ebbsfleet United 3 AFC Fylde 3: Match report

Sam Finley scores Fylde's third goal of the first half  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Sam Finley scores Fylde's third goal of the first half Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

Fylde had to settle for a third successive National League draw after conceding a heartbreaking 89th-minute equaliser in Kent.

Henry Jones and Danny Rowe gave the Coasters a two-goal lead inside 15 minutes in this clash of the promoted clubs but the hosts were level by the half-hour mark.

The fifth goal of the first half saw Sam Finley put Fylde back in front at half-time only for Ebbsfleet to score a last-gasp leveller through Andy Drury.

Manager Dave Challinor named the same team that had picked up a solid point at Chester on Tuesday.

Fylde took the lead after eight minutes, when Rowe played in Jones and the tricky Welsh midfielder beat his man on the edge of the area before firing beyond the reach of goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore into the bottom corner.

The hosts were enjoying possession without creating too much, though Jack Powell’s strike flew narrowly wide.

It was to get even better for the Coasters after 15 minutes, when Rowe doubled the lead. Jack Muldoon played the striker in from the right and he swept home his first goal of the season.

Within three minutes of the match restarting Ebbsfleet were back in the game.

A deep cross found Kenny Clark lurking at the back post and the midfielder looped a header over Rhys Taylor and into the far corner of the goal.

And on the half-hour mark the Fleet were back on level terms. A free-kick was headed across goal, and following a goalmouth scramble skipper Danny Kedwell lashed the ball into the bottom corner from close range.

There was no let-up in scintillating action and the visitors should have been back ahead a minute later. Rowe’s effort was spilled by Ashmore and Jones crashed the follow-up against the crossbar from eight yards.

However, the Coasters had their third goal of a thoroughly entertaining half after 35 minutes. Jones’ corner was headed clear as far as Finley, who took a touch before slamming the ball through a crowd of players and into the roof of the net.

Fylde should have made it four five minutes before the break, when Rowe lifted a cross to the back post for the waiting Muldoon but the wideman headed back across goal and wide.

The match remained an open affair after the break and Taylor had to get down well to keep out Jack Payne’s low shot from 18 yards.

The home side were offering more of a goal threat and Luke Coulson should have done better when teed up on the edge of the box.

Taylor was again alert when he beat half-time substitute Darren McQueen to an inviting ball over the top in the nick of time.

Jones had a glorious chance when he broke into the box and flashed a vicious strike across goal and agonisingly wide of the far post.

Rowe was on the hunt for a second but unusually passed up the opportunity to shot as he danced into the area and the chance was gone.

Ebbsfleet centre-half Sam Magri was a whisker away from levelling up the scores in the final 10 minutes, when he met a cross from the right with a powerful header that flew inches over the bar.

However, the hosts equalised with two minutes of normal time to play.

A free-kick from the left was headed clear by Lewis Montrose but fell to Drury, who powered a left-foot shot beyond the desperate clutches of Taylor, meaning Fylde go into tomorrow’s home clash with Maidenhead still seeking their first win in the fifth tier of English football.

Defence remains the key concern for Fylde manager Dave Challinor, who said: “It was a really open game and we played really well, particularly in the first half. We looked a huge threat and could have scored more. We then conceded two awful goals from our perspective and let them back into it.

“We thought it would probably be just as open in the second half but they changed their shape. They were more direct and pinned us back.

“When you concede an equaliser so late it’s very disappointing. We just have to take the point and move on.

“They have a great home record and we have travelled a long way, so on balance it’s probably not a bad point.

“We have scored in all three games and that’s not where we need to improve. We have to concentrate on our organisation defensively and do better as a group.

“We will come up against all different types of attack this season and we have to be good enough to cope.”

DANIEL AGNEW

Fylde: Taylor, Bond, Tunnicliffe, Langley, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Finley, Jones (Ezewele 73), Muldoon (Grand 87), Smith (Blinkhorn 78), Rowe; not used: Lynch, Hardy.

Ebbsfleet: Ashmore, McCoy, Connors (Mills 87), Clark, Powell (McQueen 46), Drury, Kedwell, Weston (Shields 81), Payne, Magri, Coulson; not used: McLean, Miles.

Ref: Gary Parsons

Att: 1,270