AFC Blackpool 1, AFC Fylde 1
A REPLAY will take place at Kellamergh Park tomorrow to determine which of these derby rivals will entertain Chorley in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup on Saturday week.
Only one division now separates these sides following Blackpool’s promotion the the upper level of the North West Counties League, while Fylde went into the match unbeaten in six games in Evo-Stik First Division North.
However, both sides agreed that Blackpool were the better team on the day, and Fylde will be the more relieved to have a second bite of the cherry.
Fylde were without wing-back Paul Jarvis and injured midfield linchpin Gary Stopforth, meaning a debut for young left-back Louis Lambeth, and a recall for Danny Penswick in midfield.
Lee Thorpe returned up front for Fylde, having missed the previous three games with a hamstring problem, so fellow striker Ben Waddington had to settle for a place on the bench against his former side.
Skipper Ricky Mercer shot had the first shot of note for the visitors, while midfielder Anthony Stayte also went close for the home side.
The Coasters took an 11th-minute lead courtesy of the returning striker Thorpe.
His header from Michael Barnes’ cross was saved on the line, but the former Fleetwood frontman tucked home the rebound to put the visitors in the driving seat.
The Coasters had chances to add to their tally, with Thorpe going closest only to see his effort blocked.
Stuart Parker’s Blackpool side rallied well, with Niall Cummins particularly unlucky with shots which hit the bar and the post.
Grant Dell also went close to an equaliser before the break, while at the other end, Richie Allen and Barnes both went close with shots.
However, it was Blackpool who finished the half the stronger and there was more anxiety for Fylde when keeper Rick Whiteside fell awkwardly and had to be replaced, substitute keeper Danny McDonald making his debut after the interval.
The home side carried on where they left off and put a below-par Fylde side under pressure with a series of corners and counter attacks.
As Fylde’s usual flowing football deserted them, Blackpool’s hard- working striker Cummins netted the deserved leveller on the hour mark, planting a firm header beyond McDonald.
The goal gave the home side the impetus to press for a winner as a series of corners caused more nervouos moments for Fylde.
Cummins and Matty Muscroft had the best chances to win it for the home side.
Waddington came on in the closing stages but, by this time, chances were few and far between for Fylde, who know a massive improvement is needed tomorrow.
Fylde boss Kelham O’Hanlon wasn’t a happy man and is looking for a reaction in the replay.
He said: “I was disappointed in our performance, but that is taking nothing away from AFC Blackpool, who stopped us playing.
“That’s the first time this season that we have been well below par and we have an opportunity to get things right on Tuesday night.
“Stuart Parker’s side deserve another game the way they played.”
Parker said: “I’m delighted with the players. They opened us up in the first 10 or 15 minutes, but then we settled down and worked our way into the game.
“I thought we dominated the second half. We were very solid in defence, and Mark Ashall and Niall Cummins were outstanding going forward.
“We’re slightly disappointed we didn’t win at the first attempt, but we will have extra confidence going into the replay and certainly the surprise factor about Fylde has gone.”
Blackpool: Speight, Carroll, Walker, Baker, Ford, Muscroft, Dell, Ashall, Cjummins, Fawcett, Stayte; subs: Beattie, Bradley, Daze.
Fylde: Whiteside, Heywood, Lambeth, Stringfellow, Steel, Mercer, Booth, Penswick, Thorpe, Allen, Barnes; subs: McDonald, Wilson, Warrington, Kay, Kusaloka, Doughty
n Admission at AFC Fylde tomorrow is £7 (concessions £5, Under-16s £3).