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AFC Fylde 1-1 Kendal Town
LEADING scorer Matt Blinkhorn scored a contentious second-half leveller to earn Evo-Stik
League Premier Division high-flyers AFC Fylde an FA Trophy First Qualifying Round reply with Kendal.
Blinkhorn, a summer signing from Hyde, netted his ninth of the season to cancel out a first-half opener against the run of play from fellow goal-machine Danny Mitchley.
Fylde relinquished their division’s top spot with a midweek defeat away at Trafford and manager Dave Challinor responded with five changes to his line up.
Meanwhile, Steve Edmondson made just the one as Ricky Mercer returned in place of the injured Warren Beattie, forming a back three alongside Martin Grundy and Niall Cowperthwaite.
Former Workington defender Cowperthwaite had a glorious opportunity to give the visitors the lead inside two minutes, hooking over after Fylde keeper Ben Hinchcliffe flapped at a Rob Wilson corner.
Aside from this early glimpse of goal, the Coasters dominated possession for the vast majority of the opening period and created a number of presentable chances.
The first came on four minutes as Joe Booth found Jamie Rainford on the edge of the box with the forward’s curling effort shaving the upright.
Kendal again had to cope with the loss of Mercer who lasted only 15 minutes before being replaced by Mike Rushton, a move which saw the Mintcakes revert to a back four.
Midway through the half, a combination of Ross Lloyd and post came to Town’s rescue after Adam Sumner’s corner found an unmarked Rainford at the back post.
The home side’s dominance continued with Blinkhorn failing to convert in front of goal after the lively Joe Booth exchanged passes with Jack Dorney.
With ten minutes of the half remaining, Rainford blazed over after Dorney’s through ball while moments later Blinkhorn could only finish tamely after wrong-footing the Kendal defence.
Having weathered the storm, the visitors struck five minutes before the break, Mitchley holding off Fylde skipper Matt Hughes to slide the ball past Hinchcliffe following a Lloyd throw in.
And the lead was almost doubled before the half-time whistle as Maison McGeechan’s long range effort was parried behind by ex-Kendal loan stopper Hinchcliffe.
Both sides came close to scoring early in the second-half, firstly the hosts as Sumner’s fizzed cross from the left was deflected over with Blinkhorn and Bradley Barnes lurking.
At the other end, an incisive pass from Danny Coid found Rushton in the box who saw his effort saved by the legs of Hinchcliffe.
Fylde equalised on 63 minutes when Dorney’s lobbed effort from the edge of the area rebounded off the crossbar with Blinkhorn heading the ball towards goal from a yard out.
After consultation with his assistant, the referee awarded the goal despite protestations from Kendal keeper Craig Dootson and his defenders the ball had not crossed the line.
The remainder of the game was an even affair with both teams going close to sealing a place in the next round.
Mitchley’s powerfully struck free-kick following a foul on Coid by Caspar Hughes whistled narrowly past the post after taking a deflection off the Fylde wall.
And with minutes remaining, Dootson palmed away an effort from substitute Danny Lloyd with Jack Smith clearing ahead of Michael Barnes while Blinkhorn headed wide late on.
AFC Fylde: Ben Hinchcliffe, Luke Denson, Adam Sumner, Matt Hughes (c), Andy Russell, Casper Hughes, Joe Booth (Danny Lloyd 51), Bradley Barnes (Michael Barnes 51), Matt Blinkhorn, Jamie Rainford (Harry Winter 80), Jack Dorney. Subs not used: Ryan Charnley, Jacob Gregory
Kendal Town: Craig Dootson, Ross Lloyd, Jack Smith, Martin Grundy, Ricky Mercer (Mike Rushton 15), Niall Cowperthwaite, Rob Wilson, Danny Coid (c), Danny Mitchley, Maison McGeechan (Danny McGahon 90), Zach Clark (Dareen Green 78). Subs not used: Colin Watson, Matthew Knipe
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