Match report: Worcester City 1 AFC Fylde 2
WORCESTER CITY 1
Rowe found the net twice in the first half, and while Worcester’s Cieron Keane made it a nervy finale with a fine set-piece, Fylde held on for a crucial victory.
Boss Dave Challinor made two changes to the side that saw off Gloucester City in the FA Trophy last weekend with Macauley Wilson returning at full-back and midfielder James Hardy back in the starting line-up.
The Coasters made a bright start in the opening exchanges with Brendon Daniels and Hardy looking lively but failing to muster any clear chances.
Rowe was first to have an attempt on goal when he cut in from the right and curled a left-footed strike that flew across goal.
Fylde goalkeeper Rhys Taylor had to be on his toes to punch a dangerous free-kick from Keane in their first real glimpse of goal in the first quarter of an hour.
Steve Williams was the width of the woodwork from scoring a minute later when his header from Daniels’ corner crashed back off the bar.
The Coasters were handed an even better opportunity in the 25th minute when Darren Stephenson played in Dan Bradley.
He delivered an inch perfect cross to the back post but Daniels managed to blaze over from a couple of yards out.
Daniels then had a penalty shout when he appeared to be tripped in the Worcester box; however the referee was unmoved.
On-loan star Stephenson was presented with a glorious chance 10 minutes before the break when he raced towards the Worcester goal, but opted to square to Bradley rather than go it alone and the chance fizzled out.
The deadlock was finally broken six minutes before the break and it was a familiar face that did the damage.
Bradley broke into the box, and while his effort was blocked, Rowe lashed home the loose ball from the edge of the area.
Bradley himself almost doubled the lead moments later but his sublime curling strike rebounded back off the far post.
However Rowe did stretch the visitors’ lead on the stroke of half-time.
Stephenson’s cross was deflected towards goal by a defender and although Ethan Ross made the save, Rowe bundled home at the back post for his 30th league goal of the season.
The Coasters began the second half in the same vein and Wilson wasn’t far away when he burst down the right; however he sliced his eventual strike wide under pressure.
Worcester fashioned a rare opportunity when Micah Evans broke down the right and crossed for Connor Hughes, but the midfield man failed to get a real connection on the ball.
The hosts halved the deficit 10 minutes after the restart and manager Challinor will have been disappointed with the manner of the goal.
Worcester were given a cheap free-kick 25 yards from goal and Keane stepped up to curl the ball into the top corner.
Andy Bond went close to adding his name to the scoresheet shortly after the hour mark but his stinging strike from distance was palmed away by Ross.
Jordan Keane, went close to levelling the scores after receiving the ball 20 yards out but dragged his low strike wide of the left post.
The hosts pressed for an equaliser as the game approached the final minutes and Graham Hutchison was just over with a header at the back post.
Colby Bishop almost capitalised on a slip from Josh Langley seconds later and only the quick thinking of goalkeeper Taylor, who raced off his line to smother the ball, prevented Worcester from drawing level.