AFC Fylde 1 Chester FC 1: Harry White snatches a crucial point for the Blues

Reporter:

Charlie Croasdale

HARRY WHITE grabbed a vital equaliser as Chester came from behind to earn a point at AFC Fylde.

The Blues fell behind on 55 minutes to Danny Rowe’s clever header, but Marcus Bignot’s side battled back strongly as White stroked home on 69 minutes to level up and secure another point in their bid to stay up.

Chester’s efforts were epitomised by defensive duo Ryan Astles and James Jones who both had excellent games and shackled Rowe for long periods, as the Blues made it three matches unbeaten and will certainly consider this a point gained, moving to within five points off 20th placed Barrow.

The Blues were handed a double boost in the hours leading to kick-off as goalkeeper Sam Hornby extended his loan deal by a further month from Port Vale, after Bignot had initially thought he would lose the youngster when his deal expired next week.

Blacon-born midfielder Gary Roberts was also confirmed a short-term deal with Chester just hours before kick-off and there a spot on the bench for the 30-year-old.

On a freezing cold evening at Mill Farm, Bignot was forced into one change from the side who had played so well to beat Ebbsfleet United 1-0 on Saturday, with suspended defender Andy Halls replaced in the line-up by 18-year-old Jones.

This was the third meeting of the campaign between the two sides, having drawn 1-1 at the Deva on the opening week of the season before the Blues edged an FA Trophy first round tie on penalties in their most recent fixture just three weeks ago.

Ex-Wrexham winger Jonny Smith found Rowe on three minutes, whose shot took a wicked deflection off Astles and went behind for a corner which Astles subsequently headed clear.

Rowe nearly capitalised on a stray back pass from Jordan Gough, before a terrific right flank cross from Kingsley James almost found White on the penalty spot but Jordan Tunnicliffe headed clear.

Winger Smith already looked the Coasters best outlet and he cut into the centre to unleash a 20-yard drive which struck the side-netting with Hornby beaten.

Gough's cross forced a corner in front of the travelling Blues fans and Paul Turnbull's deep delivery found an on-running Gough, who headed well over the bar.

White latched onto Lucas Dawson's long pass forward but just as he thought he'd earned a corner he was adjudged to have pushed Callum Chettle into the hoardings.

Turnbull's inventive free-kick found James Akintunde who fed Astles and his pass in-turn provided Jones with a chance 10 yards out but he scuffed his effort into the hands of Jay Lynch.

Jones felled Jack Muldoon 20 yards out but Fylde's top scorer Rowe, who bagged 50 goals for the club last season as they won promotion, blasted the free-kick well over.

Turnbull's powerful header from Reece Hall-Johnson's whipped ball earned a corner, with Jones – now in the thick of the action - unable to convert from 12 yards out.

The Blues were nearly architects of their own downfall on 25 minutes as slack marking gave Smith the chance to bear down on goal but Tom Shaw nipped in just in the nick of time.

Gough's tackle denied Rowe in a dangerous area before teenager Jones scampered clear and carried the ball 60 yards upfield much to the delight of the Blues' faithful.

Jordan Richards strike from distance had Hornby scrambling but Chester were at this stage restricting the hosts to shots from range.

Jones – having a fine evening thus far – got a vital interception to deny Rowe at the back post who was ready to pounce on Fylde skipper Sam Finley's right-wing cross.

Astles crunched into a tackle on Muldoon and the Chester fans roared their approval through the bitterly cold wind blowing in off the Wyre.

Dawson curled a free-kick over the bar from 30 yards as referee Karl Evans brought an end to the first-half.

Astles had a good opening within 90 seconds of the restart as he fired straight at Lynch from Turnbull's deep corner.

Hall-Johnson was booked for time-wasting as he dallied over a throw-in, before Smith got in behind the Blues' back line and drove low at Hornby, before Finley's low shot hit Smith and bounced wide.

James almost gave Chester the lead on 52 minutes as his cross/shot from the edge of the area looped up and hit the woodwork with Lynch back-pedalling with Dawson unable to convert the rebound from six yards out.

Just as Bignot's side were getting up a head of steam, they suffered a major blow as Rowe put Dave Challinor's outfit into the lead.

Finley whipped in a corner from the far side and it was goal poacher Rowe who glanced home from 10 yards out into the corner past Hornby.

Minutes later and Fylde almost doubled their advantage with Hornby at full stretch to deny Zaine Francis-Angol from 25 yards out.

Dawson's long knock found Akintunde who dribbled past Francis-Angol and got a shot off which White attempted to deflect into the net but couldn't get a firm connection on the ball.

Ross Hannah was introduced on the hour mark in place of Turnbull with Bignot sensing the need to go for broke in order to level matters.

The Blues grabbed a crucial equaliser in the 69th minute and it was White who bagged for the second game in succession.

Hannah capitalised on an awful back pass by Simon Grand and really should have converted from 18 yards but was smothered by Lynch.

But the ball broke to the feet of the 23-year-old White, who calmly slotted home to send the travelling fans wild, with Bignot and his staff spilling onto the pitch to celebrate. Challinor was less than impressed and kicked a water bottle as he stormed off down the tunnel.

Serhat Tasdemir came off the bench and smashed a shot goalwards from 15 yards out which Hornby did well to parry clear from goal.

Rowe's dangerous cross had Hornby beaten but Hall-Johnson was on hand to hack clear just in time with Matt Blinkhorn ready to capitalise.

The Blues nearly grabbed a shock winner with eight minutes to go. Neat passing from Gough and White set Akintunde free down the right wing and he charged at Fylde's defence before laying off Hall-Johnson, but his hard, low effort was parried away by Lynch.

Tasdemir curled an effort just over in stoppage time as Bignot’s men clung on for a draw which will certainly feel like a point gained in the circumstances.

Email:

charlie.croasdale@nwn.co.uk

Leave your comment

Share your opinions on

Characters left: 1500

Most Read