AFC Fylde 0 Stockport County 0: All to play for as FA Trophy semi-final first leg ends goalless

Tom Crawford (left) missed a good chance for AFC Fylde     Picture: Steve McLellan
Tom Crawford (left) missed a good chance for AFC Fylde Picture: Steve McLellan

AFC Fylde rued late missed chances as they drew 0-0 with Stockport County in the first leg of their FA Trophy semi-final at Mill Farm.

The first half wasn’t a brilliant one for the Coasters, as the visitors started brightly and without fear.

The explosive pace of Darren Stephenson was on show within the opening exchanges, as a cross to the near post was almost turned in after his sprint into the box.

Two minutes later, Stephenson was slid through on goal and rounded Jay Lynch but his effort lacked conviction and bounced off the outside of the post.

The weather made for a heavy pitch and a game where both sides struggled for fluency but it was Stockport who made the most of it and found joy down the right-hand side through Adam Thomas and Sam Minihan.

With the Fylde attackers not having too much joy, often shut out by Ash Palmer and Jamie Stott, it was an unlikely source who posed the Coasters’ first threat.

Neill Byrne burst out of defence, beating two players before being brought down inside the box.

Referee Marc Edwards wasn’t interested though, and waved play on, much to Byrne’s bemusement.

This briefly rallied the Coasters as Nick Haughton teed up James Hardy, whose long-range strike was comfortably palmed away by Ben Hinchliffe.

County, however, were undeterred as Sam Walker swung in a free-kick, and although Thomas made a faint connection, Lynch was able to stop it.

The second half continued in much the same fashion with the rain beginning to lash down ferociously.

It took 10 minutes for Fylde to make an impact, as Haughton and Hardy combined once again.

This time, Hardy’s low effort was nudged wide, before Serhat Tasdemir had an effort go into the side netting.

The Hatters continued to ask questions as Jordan Keane found himself played through on goal, only to blaze over.

Twenty minutes from time, Nyal Bell raced through on goal and found himself one-on-one with Lynch but rushed his effort and the keeper held firm.

At the other end, Danny Rowe – who had been limited throughout the game – sent a speculative shot wide from 30 yards, which summed up a tough afternoon for him.

The idea that Fylde could yet win the game seemed unlikely until the arrivals of Alex Reid and Danny Philliskirk.

They combined with Reid feeding Philliskirk, who in turn cut it back to the onrushing Tom Crawford.

It seemed to all the world that he would fire homebut he scuffed his effort into the pitch and then over the bar.

Matty Warburton’s introduction gave life to the County frontline as he fired an effort at Lynch from distance, but it was again kept out.

One final chance fell to the Coasters as Haughton sent a searching ball in front of Reid, who was denied by Hinchliffe, meaning all will be settled at Edgeley Park next weekend.

AFC Fylde: Lynch, Francis-Angol, Byrne, Tunnicliffe, Birch (Odusina 46), Croasdale, Crawford, Haughton, Hardy (Reid 86), Rowe, Tasdemir (Philliskirk 79). Subs not used: Griffiths, Brewitt.

Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Minihan, Duxbury, Keane, Palmer, Stott, Thomas (Warburton 83), Walker, Bell, Osborne, Stephenson. Subs not used: Baines, Ormson, Cowan, Turnbull.

Referee: Marc Edwards.

Attendance: 2,605.