FYLDE slumped to a disappointing home defeat at the hands of in-form Ilkeston and slipped to 12th in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier.
The Robins took the lead twice through Gary Ricketts in the first half, only for equalisers by Michael Barnes and then James Dean to make it 2-2 at half-time.
But Matt Richards fired home from the edge of the box to 11 minutes into the second half to condemn Fylde to their first Saturday defeat in a league game at Kellamergh Park since Dave Challinor became manager 13 months ago.
This was Fylde’s first game in a fortnight, following back-to-back postponements, but they started the brighter and created good early chances, though Adam Sumner and Harry Winter could not steer their efforts on target.
Stand-in goalkeeper Danzelle St Louis Hamilton, the former Fleetwood keeper on emergency loan from Blue Square North side AFC Telford United, made his Coasters debut due to the suspension of Ben Hinchliffe and was equal to Jack Watt’s attempt on 15 minutes, getting down well to his right to stop the shot.
But four minutes later, Ilkeston had the lead through 37-year old striker Ricketts, who blasted home from close range after a goalmouth scramble that the Fylde defence failed to deal with.
The lead lasted all of 90 seconds, though, as Dean fed Barnes, who brilliantly lobbed goalkeeper Chris Martin from the edge of the box under pressure from James Cullingworth.
Ricketts struck again on 24 minutes, however, expertly nodding home a free header from Richards’ perfect cross, which Hamilton had no chance of saving.
Despite plenty of possession, it took Fylde until a minute before half-time to draw level again.
This time Barnes turned provider, crossing for Dean to fire home on the half-volley.
It was all to play for after the break but Ilkeston took a stranglehold on the game.
Joe Maguire fired well over from distance three minutes in, and despite substitute Jack Dorney firing over for Fylde two minutes later, it was the visitors who took the lead for the third time.
Richards was able to find time and space to run at the defence and unleash a bullet of a shot from the edge of the area which rebounded off the underside of the crossbar and into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, goalkeeper Martin almost doubled his side’s advantage in spectacular style when his clearance from inside his own area had Hamilton scrambling back to his line. Luckily for Fylde, the ball bounced inches over the bar.
Another period of domination from the home side followed, but although Richie Allen, Dorney and Barnes all had chances, a third equaliser failed to materialise and Ilkeston held on for their first win of the season over Fylde at the fourth attempt.
A disappointed Challinor said: “We weren’t good enough to be totally honest. I told them exactly how Ilkeston would play but we didn’t deal with them.
“We managed to get a break right on half-time and go in level but we let in a poor goal in the second half, when we didn’t track the midfield runner, and that gave them something to hang on to.
“They are a well-drilled, organised side and they made it difficult. We didn’t do ourselves any favours and there was nowhere near the urgency or conviction we wanted.”
The Coasters face two tricky away ties in the coming week, with tomorrow’s rearranged trip to Stafford Rangers followed by a Saturday encounter with leaders North Ferriby United.
Challinor will be expecting nothing less than an immediate reaction from his players.
AFC Fylde: Hamilton, Haslam, Sumner (Jarvis 77), Hughes, Taylor, B. Barnes (Farrell 79), Booth (Dorney 50), Winter, Dean, M. Barnes, Allen; Subs not used: Steel, Fleming.