Play-off conquerors AFC Fylde topple Harrogate Town again

Simon Weaver (1605041AM8)
Simon Weaver (1605041AM8)

Two goals in the space of five second half minutes sent Harrogate Town to defeat at league leaders AFC Fylde.

Simon Weaver’s side had limited their free scoring opponents to very little chances in the first half before grabbing a deserved lead on the stroke of half time as Tom Platt headed Joe Leesley’s free kick in off the post.

The visitors’ stern defence then came undone in the 62nd minute when a tame Sam Finley shot trickled through the arms of Peter Crook and over the line.

Four minutes later James Hardy turned the tie on its’ head, springing the offside trap before rounding Crook and sliding into an empty net.

Town could not find a way back into the contest and fell to a third league defeat of the season that leaves them in 5th ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting with Kidderminster.

Weaver made four changes from last Saturday’s FA Cup clash with Halifax as Marcus Day made his first Town start alongside Luke Shiels, Jordan Robertson and Platt who returned to the starting line-up.

Harrogate Town's Jack Emmett, right

Harrogate Town's Jack Emmett, right

AFC Fylde Manager Dave Challinor made one change to his starting 11 with Casper Hughes replacing Ryan Jennings; Brendon Daniels was named as a substitute.

After a bright start from the hosts, Town had a couple of chances inside the first ten minutes as first Platt headed wide from a corner, before Andy Gascoigne fired just over from the edge of the box.

National League North top scorer Danny Rowe tried to add to his goal tally 20 minutes in, but was denied by Shiels’ strong block at the edge of his own area.

Debutant Day had looked lively in Town’s three man attack and raced behind The Coasters defence after 28 minutes only for Dom Collins to recover and deny the forward.

The best chance of the half then fell to Leesley six minutes before the break as Joe Colbeck’s right wing cross found the winger unmarked six yards out, but Town’s number 11 was unable to convert the opening.

Leesley then created the opening goal of the game on the stroke of half time as his deep free kick found Platt at the far post where the stand in centre half headed back across goal and over the line via the inside of the post.

Fylde began the second half searching for a leveller, but were limited to long range strikes by Rowe and Dixon, neither of which troubled Crook.

The hosts eventually produced an effort on target just shy of the hour mark when the ball broke to Hardy inside the area, but Crook made himself big and denied the midfielder from point blank range.

Just minutes after making the stop, Crook couldn’t hold on to Finley’s left footed strike that trickled over the line and levelled the contest.

Four minutes later Hardy turned the tie on its’ head as the winger collected Dixon’s through ball behind the Town defence, rounded Crook and tapped into an empty net.

With fifteen minutes to go Colbeck again picked out Leesley with a low right wing cross that the winger could not divert goal wards at full stretch.

That was the last chance the visiting team were able to create as Fylde held firm to collect all three points.