A stroke of luck for AFC Fylde was enough to give them the win and progress to the Second Round of the Emirates FA Cup, despite a brave and impressive effort by Nantwich Town.
A shanked effort by Ryan Croasdale just before half time gave the visitors the lead, and despite Nantwich’s best efforts, the Vanarama National League side held on to secure their place in the second round.
Both teams started brightly, however it was Nantwich who were quickest out the blocks. Their first chance came in the first minute when Troy Bourne’s cross deflected out for a corner, although the Dabbers couldn’t conjure anything from the opportunity.
The first early attempt for the men in green was followed by a number of chances for Fylde, as a several low balls into the box caused problems, ex-Nantwich man Matty Kosylo heavily involved in most of Fylde’s early pressure.
Luke Walsh has proved to be a a great weapon for David Cooke, and Dabbers fans thought they should have had a penalty after ten minutes when Walsh made a great run into the box before being brought down, but the referee wasn’t interested; which proved to be an unfortunate theme all afternoon.
Danny Rowe was highlighted as a danger man for the visitors before the game, however he only threatened from distance, his best effort coming in the 14th minute from a 30 yard free kick which Greg Hall parried away well after a powerful drive.
The remainder of the first half saw plenty of good link up play and dangerous balls into the box for both sides, but neither side had the clinical finish.
Things took a turn for the worse for Nantwich just before half time. Fylde created a quick counter attack from a Dabbers free kick where they had committed too many men forward, and a low ball in from the left fell kindly for Croasdale, whose effort bounced fortuitously and clipped the inside of the post before going in after a misplaced effort.
Nantwich thought they had levelled almost instantly, Walsh again the man behind the attack, but his low effort at the near post went into the side netting after some great footwork beat the defence in the box.
Nantwich dominated the second half, with Fylde struggling to keep the ball or push into the Dabbers half. Sean Cooke spoke before the game about his challenge to help his team progress to the second round for the first time in the clubs history, and a number of long range efforts by Nantwich’s most capped player gave the fans some hope despite him not finding the target.
Nantwich had another penalty shout waved away in the 79th minute when Ben Harrison charged the length of the pitch before going down in the Fylde box, however again, referee Benjamin Speedie saw nothing wrong with the challenge.
A minute later, it looked as if AFC Fylde had sealed the win with a second goal, but the flag was up for offside. This was followed by Nantwich’s biggest chance of the game, as the ball fell to Dabbers top scorer Joe Malkin. As the ball bounced kindly for Malkin in the opposition box, he leant back slightly and he fired the effort over the bar as Nantwich were still behind going into the last ten minutes.
The last minutes of the game saw constant Dabbers pressure, including two corners in the 90th minute and fourth minute of added time, the first saw David Webb head just over and Fylde scrambled the ball clear to seal the victory.
Despite Nantwich’s exit in the first round, they produced a great display in front of the 1,544 fans who attended the match, and the Dabbers will be looking to see another bumper crowd on Tuesday evening, as their quest for silverware juxtapositions to the Buildbase FA Trophy, as they host BetVictor Southern Premier Division Central outfit Coalville Town. Kick-off is at 7.45pm with admission priced at £11 for adults, £8 for concessions and £3 for U16s, who are free with an accompanying full-paying adult.
Nantwich Town: Greg Hall, Troy Bourne, Matty Devine, Ben Harrison, Josh Langley, Caspar Hughes, James Lawrie (Joe Mwasile 78′), David Webb, Joe Malkin (Clayton McDonald 87′), Sean Cooke, Luke Walsh (Valdemar Schousboe 83′)
Subs not used: Joel Stair, Ryan Moss (GK), Joe Davis, Will Saxon
AFC Fylde: Dan Lavercombe, Neill Byrne, Alex Whitmore, Matty Kosylo (Mark Yeates 75′), Ryan Croasdale, Daniel Rowe, Danny Philliskirk, Jordan Williams (Tyler Forbes 84′), Luke Burke, Dan Bradley (Nick Haughton 62′), Andy Taylor
Subs not used: Scott Duxbury, Kyle Jameson, Sheldon Green, James Craigen
Goals: Ryan Croasdale (44′)
Referee: Mr Benjamin Speedie