Match report: AFC Fylde 4 Darlington 1883 1


Sunday, 2nd April 2017, 5:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:28 pm
Dan Bradley celebrates scoring for AFC Fylde along with Andy Bond and Matty Hughes Picture: Steve McLellan

Sam Finley opened the scoring early on with a stunning strike before Danny Rowe doubled the advantage on the hour-mark.

Darlington pulled one back through Gary Brown; however Dan Bradley restored the cushion before Rowe sealed the result from the spot after Kevin Burgess had been dismissed for handball.

AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor rang the changes after last weekend’s disappointment at Nuneaton Town with Dom Collins and Josh Langley returning at the heart of the defence while Bohan Dixon and James Hardy were preferred to Brendon Daniels and Matty Hughes in midfield.

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There were barely seven minutes on the clock when Finley latched onto a loose ball 30 yards from goal before taking a touch and lashing an unstoppable strike into the top right-hand corner, leaving goalkeeper Adam Bartlett clutching at thin air.

Hardy had a glorious chance to make it two moments later when Dixon raced down the left and squared across goal; however Hardy’s touch let him down and the keeper reacted quickly.

The match was an even encounter after the goal for much of the first half-hour; Darlington’s only chance of note came via David Ferguson’s wild swipe at the near post that flew well wide.

Rowe could, and perhaps should, have doubled the Coasters’ lead on the half-hour mark.

The frontman nicked the ball beyond the last defender but attempted to round Bartlett rather than shoot and the goalkeeper got a fingertip to the ball.

Dixon’s pace caused endless problems for the visitors and only a last-ditch tackle prevented him from getting a shot away after he had glided past two challenges.

Andy Bond was next to try his luck and wasn’t far off at all with a left-footed strike that flashed wide as the half-time whistle approached.

Darlington’s Josh Falkingham had the first real chance of the second half when Mark Beck held up the ball well in the box before laying off for the midfielder, whose first-time effort whistled over.

The visitors were started to build the pressure and captain Burgess nodded narrowly wide at the far post.

Half-time substitute Matty Hughes broke away as the Coasters hit back but dragged his strike from the edge of the area wide of the right post.

However, shortly before the hour mark the Coasters had their crucial second goal.

Bradley’s cross deflected into the path of Rowe at the near post and the prolific striker smashed the ball through the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

The aerial threat of Beck looked Darlington’s best option as he had another chance to nod goalwards but the ball was comfortable for Taylor.

The points were almost wrapped up with just over 15 minutes to play when Bond’s corner found Dixon, whose header clipped the inside of the post before rolling back to the keeper.

Rowe had a chance to seal victory a minute later when he raced onto a ball over the top and, after beating his man in the area, forced Bartlett into an instinctive save.

However against the run of play, the Quakers halved the deficit.

Terry Galbraith whipped in a dangerous corner and Brown rose above his marker to power a header home.

No sooner had the Darlington fans returned to their seats and the Coasters restored their two-goal lead.

Matty Hughes picked out Bradley in the area and he kept a cool head to slide the ball past Bartlett.

The drama continued as the Coasters went further ahead when Dixon rounded the keeper and his goalbound effort was blocked on the line by the hand of Burgess.

He was dismissed and Rowe dispatched the resultant penalty with aplomb.

Bond looked to get in on the act in the dying moments when he broke into the box, and with no options in the middle, he went for goal himself, forcing Bartlett into another reaction save.