League One leaders Wigan Athletic were surprisingly held by National League AFC Fylde in last night’s FA Cup 2nd Round tie.
Latics controlled possession and went ahead just before half time when Will Grigg glanced home Nathan Byrne’s fine right wing cross.
The vistiors dominated proceedings and should have been out of sight by half time, but on 70 minutes Fylde drew level after Byrne recklessly fouled Sam Finley and the National League’s leading goal scorer Danny Rowe converted the penalty kick.
Latics had further chances to win it, but credit should be given to Fylde who battled well throughout and held out for the draw. Both teams will now go into the third round draw and face a replay at the DW Stadium.
Paul Cook made two changes from the team which won at Rotherham with Dan Burn and Gavin Massey replacing Alex Bruce and Ryan Colclough.
Latics were on top from the kick off and should have gone ahead after five minutes when Massey fired narrowly wide of the target after a neat one-two with Grigg on the edge of the area.
The home team were struggling to get a foothold in the game as Latics passed the ball around with confidence with captain Sam Morsy dominant in the centre.
Grigg nearly got on the score sheet when Byrne’s right wing cross found him in a good position but the striker’s header went via a defender’s head and hit the angle of post and crossbar.
Latics’ best chance came on 40 minutes when Lee Evans blazed over the crossbar from close range following Max Power’s cross.
The Coaster’s looked like they would hold out until half time but a minute before the interval Byrne swung in a superb cross from the right and Grigg got in front of his marker to glance home.
It appeared that Latics would go on to win comfortably but Fylde continued to offer strong resistance in the second period.
Chances came and went for Latics. Max Power mis-kicked when unmarked inside the area after a good cutback from Reece James.
Power deceived the Fylde defence by playing a free kick sideways to Michael Jacobs who forced a full length save from Jay Lynch.
Before Massey forced another good save from Lynch at close range as the visitors continued to press.
But against the run of play Latics conceded a penalty, Jones made a good save but the ball came out to Sam Finley and Byrne slide in recklessly to bring him down.
The prolific Rowe converted the spot kick, sending Jamie Jones the wrong way, for an incredible 60th goal in 63 matches.
The Coaster’s now relished the prospect of a major cup shock but it was Latics who came closest to clinching the winner when substitute Nick Powell headed wide from a Power free kick.
Latics had been the dominant team throughout with 70% possession and 32 shots but their failure to be clinical in front of goal proved costly and Fylde lived to fight another day.
Manager Paul Cook was disappointed with the result but was spot on with his assessment after the game.
“The whole day has been a credit to AFC Fylde. The facilities here at of the highest standard and their lads gave every little bit.
It’s their night tonight and they should enjoy the moment of glory.
Of course we’re disappointed, but we get another chance back at the DW Stadium and it’s up to us to take it.
For Fylde and their players and supporters tonight is what the FA Cup is all about. We’ve been there ourselves so we know exactly how it feels.
It was a good game of football and we had tremendous support from our fans, so we’re disappointed for them the most.”