Abandoned match frustrates Fylde

Dion Charles is brought down

Dion Charles is brought down

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AFC Fylde lost ground in the Vanarama National North promotion race after torrential rain saw Saturday’s home match against Bradford Park Avenue abandoned after 33 minutes.

Danny Rowe had given the Coasters the lead from the penalty spot six minutes earlier but the Kellamergh Park fixture must be replayed.

It means Fylde have slipped to third place ahead of Monday’s trip to Stockport County, whose 2-0 defeat at North Ferriby United on Saturday enabled the Humberside club to overtake the Coasters.

Runaway leaders Solihull Moor were pegged back by a late equaliser at Worcester City but now have a 12-point lead over Fylde.

Coasters boss Dave Challinor had no issues with referee Graeme Fyvie’s decision to abandon the game. He said: “There was no decision to be made really - the pitch was becoming unplayable.

“However, when we look back at our game at Solihull Moors earlier in the season, which wasn’t called off, then it gets frustrating.

“There needs to be some clarity regarding when a game should be called off and when it shouldn’t because there is no consistency.

“The sun was out before the game during the warm-up and within 10 minutes of the game kicking off the wind had picked up and the rain came in, so we completely agree with the decision on this occasion.

“The weather showed no signs of relenting and it was making playing any type of football impossible. With the way we like to play, the game would have become farcical and unfortunately the officials had no choice.”

There’s an additional frustration for the Fylde boss, who had hoped to have midfielders Richie Baker and Bohan Dixon in contention for Stockport after both were suspended on Saturday. However, the abandonment means both remain unavailable.

Challinor added: “ It’s a disappointing one for Richie especially because it was a chance to face his former club and now he will miss out.”

In the duo’s absence on Saturday’s, James Hardy and Dion Charles were named in the starting line-up.

Bradford captain Simon Ainge created the first opportunity of a quiet opening, rising highest to connect with a corner, but his powerful header was well wide of the left post.

Fylde were agonisingly close to taking the lead on the 13th minute, when Charles raced down the right and cut the ball back to Rowe. The frontman’s touch was off but Sam Finley nicked the loose ball and fired just wide from 12 yards.

Rowe himself fashioned the next chance, when he found space on the edge of the area. However, his left-footed attempt was weak and was comfortably saved by Jon Stewart in the Bradford goal.

The rain was really starting to come down as the game approached the 20-minute mark and play was inevitably suffering.

Darren Thornton attempted to brighten up proceedings but his free-kick from the edge of te Fylde area was well over.

The match finally sparked to life in the 27th minute, when the referee awarded a penalty to the home side for handball.

Rowe stepped up and made no mistake from 12 yards, emphatically smashing the ball into the bottom left corner for his 32nd goal of the season.

Unfortunate, the rain was unrelenting and the referee soon deemed the pitch unplayable.

It meant Challinor could turn his attention to today’s visit to his former club.

“We now look forward to Monday,” he said. “We have to use what happened on Saturday to our advantage in that we will be a bit fresher than Stockport after only playing for half an hour.

“We have to perform as we know we can at a high tempo because Stockport have been in decent form recently.

“They have given themselves an outside chance of getting into the play-offs, so it’s a big game for them too.”

DANIEL AGNEW

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes, Langley, Hannigan, Sumner, Barnes, Finley, M. Hughes, Charles, Hardy, Rowe; subs: Urwin, Collins, Crainey, Dudley, Lloyd.

Bradford PA: Stewart, Qualter, Mather, Dean, Ainge, Thornton, King, Paterson, Chilka, Colley, Marshall; subs: Subs: Scott, Dickinson, Mottley-Henry, Wilkinson, Webb-Foster.