MATCH REPORT: Wigan 3 Fylde 2

They sing about him being on fire and Wigan super-sub Will Grigg certainly was too hot for AFC Fylde to handle as he cruelly extinguished the Coasters' FA Cup dreams.

Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 9:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 10:15 pm
AFC Fylde's Challinor, Heythornthwaite and Rowe

Fylde though proved that the magic of the FA Cup is still alive as they had League One leaders Wigan on the ropes before Grigg's intervention.

Grigg was a menace in the 1-1 draw at Mill Farm and with his absence from the starting line-up the stage was scorched alive by Fylde's own in-form number nine Danny Rowe.

Ivan Toney's first half effort was cancelled out by Simon Grand before Rowe grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck.

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It was far from spectacular but that scruffy deflected effort will go down as one of the most important of his 100 plus Fylde goals though the National League side were robbed of a third round date at Premier League side Bournemouth by a late Grigg smash and grab.

This was nowhere near the Wigan side that bypassed AFC's Fylde coast neighbours Fleetwood on Saturday.

The Fylde fans were in strong voice as the rain pelted down at the DW Stadium with Challinor's men thankful for the defensive awareness of Jordan Richards early doors as he just did enough to put Toney off in the six-yard box with the strikers effort from Gavin Massey's right wing centre tamely falling for Lynch.

Though a second later Fylde were left ruing what might have been when Richards' corner to the back post found the head of the unmarked Simon Grand at the back stick though the back-peddaling Fylde man could only nod off target.

Fylde's hero from the first clash Rowe managed to get his eye in early but his low 25-yard drive was easily collected by Sarkic.

The National League side competed well in the opening stages but Wigan started to show their class as the half wore on with Fylde nearly out-foxed by a quick free-kick from Max Power but his ingenuity was not matched by Toney who strolled onto the ball and rattled it into an orange shirt.

Rowe is prolific in the box but he was nearly rippling the wrong net as he diverted Power's low corner from the left over his own bar.

Fylde had not come to the DW to sit back though with Smith and Rowe playing a neat one-two on the left though Bond did not have the license to kill Wigan off as he looped the ball over the bar.

Though the Coasters were caught napping seconds later as Elder zoomed down the left flank before fizzing the ball into the path of the unmarked Toney who could not believe his luck as he drilled the ball home in the 31st minute. It might not yet be Christmas but it was certainly a gift from Fydle's defence.

Finley hammered the ball over the bar and Fylde sensed blood as they kept pressing for that leveller. Rowe was a thorn in Wigan's side and it was from the forward's direct play that Fylde drew level.

The hitman only has eye for goal and it was his rasping deflected effort from just outside the box that forced Sarkic into conceding the corner that did the damage four minutes before the break.

That subsequent set-piece caused a flurry of head tennis in front of Sarkic before Byrne cleared straight to Rowe in the danger zone. He did not need asking twice and thundered the ball straight at Sarkic, he could only bat the ball away and Grand was on hand to gobble up the rebound.

The leveller knocked the wind out of Wigan's sailed and allowed Fylde to soar into the break on a high.

Wigan came out fighting at the start of the second half with Fylde virtually camped in their own half and opting to play the long ball up to Rowe in the opening 10 minutes.

But after surviving an early spell of pressure Fylde and Rowe started to show glimmers of danger once again though his ball through to substitute Muldoon was just snuffed out.

Referee R Joyce had a big call to make just after the hour mark as Muldoon's effort from distance was parried into the path of Smith by Sarkic with the Fylde man tumbling under pressure from the shot-stopper though the official waved away the claim.

The momentum was with Fylde and they took the game by the scruff of the neck with who else but Rowe edging them in front. Smith had raced down the right and intelligently pulled the ball back for the forward who had dropped into space at the top of the box, it was not as spectacular as some of his famous strikes but it will certainly go to the top of the scrapbook as his powerful effort cannoned off a Wigan man and into the net.

Fylde continued to keep the pressure on the Latics with the just over 2,000 strong home faithful voicing their discontent with a splattering of boos as Cook's men remained content to pass the ball around rather than go for the jugular.

Smith nodded the ball straight at Sarkic but Cook had thrown on the big gun of Will Grigg and he once again outfoxed Fylde's defence just like he did in the first game at Mill Farm to squeeze in on the left and arrow the ball past Lynch.

It was cruel on Fylde and against the run of play in a game that once again was the story of the number nines.

The majority of the game had been about Fylde's that man Rowe but Grigg stole in at the back stick to flick home Byrne's cross to snatch the prize from Fylde.

It looked like fate had handed Fylde a late Christmas gift as Sarkic's late time wasting saw Joyce award Fylde an indirect set-piece in the box though Rowe's effort took a deflection and fizzed agonisingly wide with the subsequent set-piece nodded straight into the keeper's arms as Fylde's hopes fizzled out,

Wigan: Sarkic, Byrne, Elder, Perkins, Power, Toney, Massey (Hunt, 73), Bruce, Roberts (Dunkley, 87), Colclough (Grigg, 62), Burn. Subs not used: Evans, Thomas, Burgess, Merrie.

AFC Fylde: Lynch, Montrose, Francis-Angol, Tunnicliffe, Bond (Blinkhorn, 85), Finley, Rowe, Grand, Richards, Smith, Ezewele (Muldoon, 54) Subs not used: Taylor, Taylor, McCready, Tasdemir, Jones.