Fightback is too late to save AFC

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Bamber Bridge 3, AFC Fylde 2

Fylde were left to rue missed chances and they paid for their mistakes at the QED Stadium last night.

Even so, they almost pulled an unlikely draw out of the fire despite being three down with two minutes to play.

Fylde were on top in the early stages, with good first-half chances falling to Paul Jarvis and Kevin Townson, and these proved costly.

New signing Jarvis was gifted the pick of the opportunities when he seized on a sloppy Brig pass across their own penalty area only to direct his shot inches wide.

Midway through the half it was Townson’s turn in his first game for four weeks after injury.

First his goalbound shot from the edge of the box was palmed clear by keeper Lee Dovey, who also stopped another fizzing effort from the visitors’ top scorer and completed a stunning double-save from Michael Barnes’ follow-up.

The home side then had a rare attack and bright winger Ashley Waddecar forced a near-post save from Dave Stevenson.

And from the resulting corner, Brig striker Peter Wright punished hesitation in the Fylde defence to fire home on 27 minutes.

The Fylde defence was found wanting again 11 minutes later, when Phil Doughty slipped on the poor surface and allowed Louis Mayers time and space to bend his shot around Stevenson.

Fylde boss Kelham O’Hanlon was fuming over his team’s defensive frailties, though recalled full-back Ryan Elderton tried to rally his team-mates with a shot which was deflected over the bar and Doughty rose highest in the last attack of the half but headed agonisingly wide.

A miserable half for Fylde ended with Joe Booth hobbling off with an Achilles injury to be replaced by Andy Bell.

Determined to pull back an early goal in the second period, Fylde were hit on the counter-attack on 54 minutes, when Doughty’s attempted clearance fell to Peter Wright, who took full advantage.

At 3-0 down, Fylde refused to surrender but Townson remained out of luck as his free-kick thudded against a post.

Barnes, a frustrated figure through lack of service, was replaced by Matt Walwyn but Brig went close to a fourth when Martin Crowder’s long-range shot flew just wide.

Fylde substitute Steel saw a header hooked off the line Jarvis also had a goalbound effort hacked clear.

The goals finally came for Fylde when it was too late, Matt Lawlor firing home from a corner on 88 minutes.

Fylde scored again two minutes later, when the ball broke for Townson in the six-yard box and he poked home.

Hopes of a dramatic equaliser rose when Walwyn broke clear but his shot was deflected wide, and keeper Stevenson ran upfield to throw himself at the resulting corner kick only to be denied by his opposite number.

The teams do it all again next Tuesday at Kellamergh Park, then again in next month’s Reebok Stadium cup final ... round one to Brig!

O’Hanlon didn’t mince his words. “ I have no complaints with the result. They took their opportunities when they presented themselves and we were punished for some poor individual errors,” he said.

“We had some great opportunities to go in front early on but then we go and give goals away like that. We have a game at Wakefield on Saturday which we need to win and put it right.”

Fylde: Stevenson, Lawlor, Elderton Doughty, Stringfellow, Kay (Steel), Booth (Bell), Mahoney, Jarvis, Townson Barnes (Walwyn), not used: Hills, Edge