AFC Fylde 2 Nuneaton Town 2
Saturday 19th March, 2016;
Having led for most of the game in a clash between two play-off hopefuls at Fylde, Nuneaton found themselves 2-1 down going into injury time after two goals in the last ten minutes looked destined to throw them out of the top five.
But Boro showed their character as they clawed back a goal in stoppage time to ensure the points were shared.
After their late heartbreak against Gainsborough Trinity the week before, Boro knew that they had to start well against Fylde if they were to remain a part of the play-off hunt – and they did just that.
Reverting to a diamond midfield 4-4-2 formation, width from the full-backs was always going to be key, and within the first 90 seconds right back James Clifton showed why.
He found himself on the edge of the area and sent a stunning drive past Ben Hinchcliffe and into the top corner of the net.
The goal came in the 2nd minute but, incredibly, if not for Jordan Smith in the Boro goal it would have been 1-1 before the four minute mark.
Almost straight from the kick-off Fylde were on the front foot. A lifted ball into the box found a home head in a crowded box and if not for the reflexes of Smith it would have nestled into the back of the net.
Nuneaton suffered a couple of further scares as the home side piled on the pressure, earning four corners in the next five minutes.
They could not capitalise on them, though, as the visiting defence was resolute, keeping the home side at bay through to half-time.
Nuneaton offered little threat themselves as the middle of the pitch became the battle ground – and an entertaining one at that – as although chances became scarce the football continued to impress.
The second half was always going to be a different affair as naturally the home side would push for an equaliser – and so it proved.
Fylde had the better of the opening exchanges after the restart, and continued to push forward after that. Nuneaton seemed content to sit back and try and hit them on the break.
It was from one of those breaks, in the 68th minute, that they nearly doubled their lead as another full-back, this time Cieron Keane, had a go. The Boro number three was unlucky to see his curling effort go just over the top with Hinchcliffe well beaten.
However, that effort was a rarity in what was all Fylde in the second half, the home side gradually upping the pressure the longer the half went on.
In the end it took until the 82nd minute for Richie Baker to apply the finishing touch after Smith had made a far post save from a header. It was a soft goal to concede after the Nuneaton defence had held out so well for so long.
Further disappointment was only a few minutes away - a corner into the box in the 86th minute eluded every Boro head, allowing Josh Langley to bundle home unchallenged, a sickening blow for Wilson and his team.
Wilson responded by bringing on Tyrrell Waite for Tom Elliott after the goal as Nuneaton looked to spring from defence to attack.
With their play-off place on the line they threw everything at their hosts – and they got some reward with a late goal of their own.
It came from the penalty spot after Elliott Whitehouse was brought down by the onrushing Hinchcliffe. Rob Duffy was calmness personified as he stepped up and stroked it home with ease.
It proved to be the last goal in what was an eventful afternoon.
FT: AFC Fylde 2 Nuneaton Town 2
AFC FYLDE: Hinchcliffe, Hughes, Sumner (Blinkorn 87), Langley, Hannigan, Barnes, Hughes (Lloyd 74), Baker, Rowe, Dixon (Charles 60) Finley.
Subs not used: Crainey, Hardy.
NUNEATON TOWN: J.Smith, Clifton, C.Keane, Maguire, Rowe-Turner, J.Keane, Byrne, Elliott (Waite 89), Whitehouse, Ironside, Harewood (Duffy 52).
Subs not used: De La Paz, Scott, Lane.