Ritch rewards for unbeaten Fylde

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Lancaster City 1 AFC Fylde 1

THIS well-deserved draw stretched Fylde’s unbeaten start in Evo-Stik First Division North to six games and ended the Dolly Blues’ 100 per cent record.

Ritchie Allen’s 14th minute strike gave Fylde the lead at the Giant Axe only for Alex Meany to equalise 33 minutes into a thrilling end-to-end game.

Young Craig Unsworth stepped in to make his debut between the sticks for the Coasters and made a number of important contributions to keep the home side at bay.

Dave Swarbrick had a fantastic opportunity to score a late winner against his former club but the Fylde striker’s shot trickled agonising wide from ten yards.

Both sides started slowly until a Lancaster free-kick was blocked by the Fylde wall after eight minutes.

Less than a minute later, Allen collected the ball on the edge of the box and laid it off for Gary Stopforth, whose curling shot went inches wide.

The deadlock was broken five minutes later, when Michael Barnes made a good run from halfway and played an exquisite ball between two defenders for Allen to run on to. The striker slotted the ball past goalkeeper Martin Fearon to the delight of the 100-plus travelling fans.

Matt Kay and Allen each had a chance each to double the lead before the Lancaster equaliser.

A poor pass by Stopforth was collected by Meany 30 yards out and he ran forward to the edge of the box before firing past Unsworth.

Two minutes later, Meany was denied a second when Unsworth saved his shot from ten yards.

It was Fylde who ended the half the stronger as Swarbrick and Allen had further chance.

The second half saw both teams tire quickly in their second game in three days, but Fylde had the better chances to find the winner.

Allen was again in the thick of the action in the centre of an attacking three but could not apply another finishing touch.

With seven minutes left, Lancaster’s Danny Hattersley unleashed a shot from distance which was watched by Unsworth as the ball went just wide.

Two minutes from time, Swarbrick almost bagged all three points for the Coasters. Paul Jarvis was played in on the left by Glenn Steel and his cross was steered wide by Swarbrick.

The visitors also had a free-kick within striking range for Joe Booth but he decided to square the ball to Wilson rather than take a shot and the ball was cleared.

This was a valuable point for Fylde against a side who began the day at the top of the table. They have now been replaced by Curzon Ashton, who boast the last 100 per cent record.

Fylde remain third ahead of Saturday’s exciting FA Cup preliminary round derby at AFC Blackpool.

CHRISTOPHER PARK

Fylde: Unsworth, Heywood, Jarvis, Mercer, Steel, Stopforth (Penswick 80), Booth, Kay (Wilson 66), Allen, Swarbrick, Barnes (Waddington 83); not used, Stringfellow, Kusaloka.