Alfreton Town 1 AFC Fylde 0: Full FA Cup report and reaction
An inspired goalkeeping performance from Alfreton Town stopper Fabian Spiess saw AFC Fylde crash out of the FA Cup at their first hurdle.
The Coasters had more than enough opportunities to win this second qualifying round clash comfortably but Tom Allan’s early strike decided the tie at the Impact Arena, where Fylde won 5-3 in the league last month.
Manager Dave Challinor was forced into just one change ahead of the match, with the suspended Sam Finley replaced by Matty Hughes.
The Coasters flew out of the traps and James Hardy headed just over following a neat one-two with Josh Langley.
However it was the hosts that took the lead after just nine minutes. Ryan Wilson whipped in a corner from the right that was flicked on and Allan smashed home a volley with aplomb from 10 yards.
From the restart, Alfreton put ten men behind the ball and Fylde pressed and probed for a way through, Bohan Dixon going closest in the opening 20 minutes with a wild drive from just inside the area.
Matty Hughes looked to make inroads down the right when he received a pinpoint pass from Dixon, but after beating his man he could only fire wide of the near post.
Striker Danny Rowe had his first sniff of goal shortly before the half-hour mark when he beat his marker at least twice before curling a strike narrowly wide. The Coasters were getting closer by the minute and Hardy clipped the post with a first time strike across goal soon after.
Rowe was starting to look like the player that scored four at the Impact Arena a month ago as his flicked header was acrobatically kept out by Spiess.
A goal was surely coming as Dixon drove to the byline and crossed but despite lining up in the middle to turn the ball home, somehow no one in white could and the ball was cleared.
The Coasters clocked up yet another opportunity when Rowe delivered a low ball into the centre, but Matty Hughes could only turn over with a left-footed effort.
Alfreton fashioned a rare chance on the stroke of half-time when Allan fizzed in a vicious cross that Adam Priestley could only knock wide.
The Coasters kicked off the second half in a similar vein as Hardy was denied early on by Spiess low down to his right. The youngster was having a personal battle with the stopper and his volley was again kept out at the second attempt by Spiess.
Even full-back Danny Holmes tried his luck after a weaving run but the outcome was the same as the goalkeeper got down well to his low shot from 20 yards.
Alfreton were riding their luck and the Coasters should have grabbed the equaliser just after the hour when Dixon rounded the keeper and teed up Rowe but somehow the goalkeeper and defender scrambled the ball clear.
Priestley hit back with an opportunity for the hosts when he found space on the edge of the area but he dragged his shot just wide of the left hand post.
The Coasters spurned another glorious chance with 20 minutes to play when substitute Matt Blinkhorn did well to cross for Rowe who was inches away from connecting.
The ball just wouldn’t cross the line as another pinball moment ended up in the goalkeeper’s grateful arms, both Rowe and Hardy firing at him from point-blank range.
With just seconds left to play Spiess pulled off potentially his best save of the afternoon when he clawed Rowe’s goalbound free-kick right out of the top corner.
Williams headed over the top and Caspar Hughes fired straight at the stopper. It just wasn’t to be Fylde’s day, meaning that for only the second time in five seasons there will be no crack at a Football League club for Fylde in the first round proper.
Manager David Challinor admitted his disappointment after his side missed out on another FA Cup run.
He said: “I’m always disappointed to lose and I’m not going to hide behind the fact that we concentrate on the league.
“We probably could have been there all night and not scored but sometimes that’s how it happens. It certainly hasn’t been for the want of trying.
“We could have been better but we’ve not had one bit of luck in front of their goal and how we’ve not scored over is pretty mind-blowing.
“It’s always easy to be critical straight after but I can’t believe we haven’t got something from the game.
“After so many scrambles and things on their goal-line, how it’s not gone in I’ll never know. But we’ve made poor decisions in front of goal. We’ve ended up not getting shots away and not being ruthless,and that ultimately comes back and bites you.
“The keeper has made a lot of routine saves but we’ve battered away, battered away and not scored.
“It’s not the end of the world. It’s hopefully, not a wake-up call but a keep-your-feet-on-the-ground call. We’re in a good position and we’ve played OK again.
“We’ll work hard and hopefully take our frustrations out against Gainsborough. It gives us a full week to work on things and fingers crossed we get a little more luck next week than we did today.”
AFC Fylde: Thompson, Holmes (Jennings 72), Langley, Williams, Kennedy, Bond, C. Hughes, Dixon, Hardy, M. Hughes (Blinkhorn 60), Rowe
Subs not used: Tasdemir, Collins, Baker, Newell.
Alfreton: Speiss, Wilson, Kennedy, Heaton, McGowan, Jordan, Monkhouse, Mantack, Allan, Priestley, Westcarr.