Match report: Dover Athletic 0 AFC Fylde 1
Fylde's longest away trip of the season seemed far shorter on the return journey as the Coasters returned from Dover with three points from an entertaining clash.
Highlight of the 650-mile round trip was Vanarama National League top scorer Danny Rowe's 11th of the season which subjected the former leaders to back-to-back 1-0 defeats.
The Coasters limited their hosts to very few chances, though goalkeeper Jay Lynch pulled off a couple of sensational saves.
Rowe’s fifth goal in four league games sealed the victory in the 78th minute as Fylde held out for an impressive victory on the south coast.
Manager Dave Challinor made two changes to the side that beat Torquay seven days earlier, with Sam Finley and 17-year-old Serhat Tasdemir replacing Henry Jones and Jonny Smith in midfield.
The hosts made the brighter start in freezing conditions, striker Ryan Bird nodding straight into the arms of Lynch after Mitch Pinnock had broken down the left.
Andy Bond hit back with the chance at the other end but his strike also landed comfortably into the goalkeeper's arms.
Coasters defender George Edmundson had a lucky escape on the quarter-hour, when he misjudged his clearance in the six yard box and was grateful for Lynch’s intervention as Bird closed in.
Striker Rowe made his first impact on the game midway through the half, twisting and turning on the edge of the box before rifling his shot from the angle at Mitch Walker. The frontman stung the palms of the Dover stopper again moments later.
With the visitors well on top, the unlikely figure of Edmundson chanced his arm from distance and his fierce effort fizzed inches wide of the top corner.
The hosts were a whisker from taking the lead shortly after the break, when Manny Parry’s flicked header found Bird at the back post but the towering frontman stabbed his effort over the bar from point-blank range.
Fylde responded with their best opportunity up to that point. Zaine Francis-Angol did well to beat full-back Loui Fazakerley and tee up Finley, and although the Coasters captain hit the target, Walker was equal to his powerful attempt.
The match was becoming an end-to-end affair and Bird drew a fantastic reaction save from Lynch before Giancarlo Gallifuoco headed narrowly over.
The chances continued to flow and Finley was unfortunate to see his 20 yard lob drift a foot over the bar.
Fylde stopper Lynch pulled off the save of the afternoon with 15 minutes to play, denying Bird what looked a certain goal from just inside the area with a strong hand.
The keeper was soon called into action again, palming away Mitch Brundle’s 25-yard free-kick.
But then that man Rowe settled the issue again, scoring for the fourth successive game. He looked to have spurned his shooting opportunity on the edge of the area but picked the pocket of Parry and slotted the ball into the bottom right corner.
Substitute Matt Blinkhorn had claims for a penalty waved away in the dying moments, when he was felled by Gallifuoco when in on goal. Dover topped the table this time last week but have now slipped to fifth, while Fylde remain 16th and now face a two-week break from league action due to their FA Cup involvement.
Dover Athletic: Walker, Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam, Brundle, Pinnock, Fazakerley (Deen-Conteh 84), Nortey (Jeffrey 67), Alabi (Daniel 23), Bird. Subs not used: Richards, Okosieme.
AFC Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Tunnicliffe, Edmundson, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Bond, Finley (J Taylor 88), Tasdemir (Smith 61), Mangan, Rowe (Blinkhorn 85). Subs not used: Grand, Jones.
Ref: Alan Dale