AFC Fylde 1, Stockport County 0
AFC Fylde recorded their first-ever victory over former Football League club Stockport in the second qualifying round of the FA Cup.
The ever-improving Matty Hughes scored the 33rd-minute winner against manager Dave Challinor’s former club, avenging County’s 3-2 win in Vanarama National North at Kellamergh Park just four weeks ago.
County threw everything at Fylde in search of an equaliser and would have forced a replay had not a late strike by Micah Evans been ruled out for handball.
Both sides started with plenty of endeavour and purpose,with the Coasters’ Danny Lloyd causing havoc down the left early on.
Fylde’s former Hatters midfielder Richie Baker had the first attempt on goal, firing just wide of ex-Fleetwood keeper Danny Hurst’s goal with a free-kick from the left following a foul on Lloyd.
Immediately afterwards, Hughes fired a dangerous ball across the face of goal which just eluded Matt Blinkhorn as the striker attempted a diving header.
Fylde’s top scorer Dion Charles looked to crown his excellent week, which had brought a new contract and an England C call-up, with a FA Cup goal but he fired straight at Hurst from 12 yards.
Stockport went closer when Joe Garvin forced a good save from Matt Urwin, who was making his debut deputising for Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal.
Hughes, doing his utmost to nail down a regular first-team place at Fylde, produced some excellent skill to beat a number of men and win a corner, though County cleared and it took a great last-ditch tackle by home left-back Alex Whittle to deny striker Max Hazeldine, on loan at Stockport from Accrington Stanley.
Sam Finley fired wide for Fylde, who took the lead five minutes later.
Hughes finished well, having been put through by Charles, and the Coasters were good value for their lead.
Charles went close three minutes later, when his dipping volley from 20 yards just cleared the bar, much to the relief of the beaten Hurst.
Stockport came more and more into the game after conceding, though their best effort before half-time was a 30-yard shot by Garvin, their liveliest player, which flew harmlessly over.
Facing the earliest FA Cup exit in their history, the Hatters brought on Sefton Gonzales for Hazeldine at half-time and the substitute made a dangerous break six minutes after the restart. Fylde cleared the danger and counter-attacked only for Charles to fire well over.
The hosts had another chance when summer signing Finley did well to work an opening in the pealty area but shot just wide of the far post.
Another County loan signing, Matty Hamilton from Wigan, found an opening at the other end but shot weakly at Urwin.
Stockport captain Sean O’Hanlon was a menace in the Fylde box throughout, heading just wide in the 63rd minute and directing another header straight at Urwin a couple of minutes later.
As the game entered its closing stages, Fylde found themselves under the cosh and Lewis Montrose glanced a header just wide at the far post.
Substitute Evans did manage to get the ball in the Fylde net with eight minutes remaining but was deemed to have used his hand to do so, much to the dismay of the away following.
Urwin crowned an outstanding debut with an atonishing save on 88 minutes, clawing away another O’Hanlon header from one of Stockport’s 17 corners.
It wasn’t Stockport’s day and they had substitute Abdullai Baggie sent off after the final whistle for foul and abusive language. Fylde, who have won through to the third qualifying round for the third time in four seasons, return to cup action at Kellamergh Park on Tuesday, when Evo-Stik First Division North club Radcliffe Borough are the visitors in the Lancashire FA Trophy (7.45pm)