Alfreton Town 1 AFC Fylde 2

Matty Hughes nets Fylde's winner
Matty Hughes nets Fylde's winner
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ALFRETON TOWN 1

The home side started brightly and took the lead through Dan Bradley, but second-half goals from substitute James Hardy and Matty Hughes sealed a well-deserved victory.

Hughes was Fylde’s match-winner for the second time in four days as Dave Challinor made just one change from the side that beat Hednesford, with Matt Blinkhorn replacing the injured Danny Lloyd in attack.

Alfreton had the first shot on target in the first minute, when Joe Ironside found space but his tame effort was comfortable for keeper Ben Hinchliffe.

Bradley was next to try his luck for the hosts and his effort was a little more testing – Hinchliffe forced to turn the ball over for a corner.

On six minutes Alfreton were ahead. Bradley’s strike seconds earlier proved a sighter and he made no mistake second time around, capitalising on a misplaced pass from Josh Langley and firing home with aplomb.

Fylde’s first chance of note came on the 15-minute mark, when Sam Finley was hacked down 30 yards from goal. Danny Rowe dragged the resultant free-kick wide of goal.

Alfreton had a dangerous free-kick of their own in a similar position 10 minutes later but Hinchliffe was equal to Sam Jones’ strike.

The visitors were denied what looked a stonewall penalty after half an hour, when Dion Charles was body-checked in the area, but the referee waved away his appeals.

Fylde were agonisingly close to finding a leveller on the stroke of half-time.

Blinkhorn broke through but was thwarted by former Hull City stopper Matt Duke.

Finley fired a vicious strike into a crowd from the resulting corner and it was cleared as the hosts held their advantage until the interval.

Just five minutes into the second half, the Coasters had another strong claim for a penalty when Hughes was challenged in the box but the referee was again unimpressed.

Finley wasted a glorious chance a minute later, when Rowe burst through on goal and squared the ball for the midfielder to sweep his shot well over the bar.

As in the first half, Fylde were enjoying the lion’s share of the ball but struggling to test substitute goalkeeper Nick Draper, who replaced Duke at the break. Instead it was Alfreton who fashioned the next chance, when the ball fell kindly to Ironside six yards out but his low strike was blocked on the line.

The equaliser eventually arrived on 68 minutes, when the ever-dangerous Hughes raced at the Alfreton defence before laying the ball off for half-time substitute Hardy to fire into the bottom left corner.

The goal sparked the visitors into life and they looked the more likely to nick a winner.

The home side had other ideas and Brad McGowan headed inches wide from a corner five minutes after the goal.

Fylde’s comeback was almost complete moments later, when Caspar Hughes latched on to Charles’ cross but rushed his effort, which soared over the top.

No sooner was the ball back in play than the Coasters got a deserved second goal on 78 minutes.

Hardy played in Hughes, who raced away from the defence before giving the keeper the eyes and calmly slotting home.

Striker Rowe tried to get in on the action but his fierce drive five minutes from time was narrowly wide of Draper’s post.

The frontman was closer still a minute later, when his effort from a tight angle rolled along the goal-line and clear.

But the Coasters had done enough to make it three wins on the bounce ahead of Saturday’s FA Trophy home clash with Skelmersdale United.

Fylde are just a point behind Nuneaton in Vanarama National North with a game in hand, though the leaders can stretch their advantage at FC United of Manchester this evening.

DANIEL AGNEW