Curzon Ashton’s FA Trophy campaign came to an end as Danny Rowe’s first half goal proved enough to give AFC Fylde a slender victory.
The Nash had Cam Mason and some wasteful Fylde finishing to thank for keeping the score down in an opening 45 minutes dominated by the hosts.
Curzon again had to ride their luck at the beginning of the second half before growing into the game and pushing their hosts all the way as the game drew to a close without being able to create a clear chance at goal.
The defending champions saw the game out for a deserved win to move through to the second round while Mark Bradshaw can take encouragement from that second half performance despite their five-game unbeaten run coming to an end.
There was only one change to the team which beat Hereford last week. The influential Connor Dimaio missed out after the recurrence of a knee problem and he has now returned to Stockport County tom undergo rehabilitation. Isaac Sinclair took his place alongside Sean Miller and Charlie Jolley in attack, the latter of whom has extended his loan spell from Wigan Athletic until after the Christmas period of games.
Curzon began brightly with James Baillie finding plenty of space on the right wing, but it was Fylde who threatened first when Rowe ghosted into space at the back post but couldn’t direct his free header on target.
Mason was called into action to deny Fylde’s Nick Haughton before the deadlock was broken in the 27th minute. Captain Lewis Montrose drove to the byline and squared for a gleeful Rowe who was never going to miss from inside the six-yard box.
That was the first goal that the Nash had conceded in 447 minutes and their previously impregnable goal came under siege for the next 15 minutes. Fylde were slack in their finishing however, often blazing efforts over the bar and when they did find the target, Mason was there to ensure the Curzon stayed in the contest going into half time.
The second half started the way the first ended. Curzon were fortunate to see James Craigen blast a presentable chance over the bar while Baillie positioned himself well to clear Matty Kosylo goal-bound effort off the line.
A switch in formation helped the Nash finally gain a foothold in the game and they could have equalised in bizarre fashion as Fylde centre back Alex Whitmore almost skewed a cross into his own goal.
The hosts looked a little rattled as Curzon took control of a midfield area they had previously ceded and Sinclair had the travelling fans on their feet with a curling 20-yard effort which was beaten to safety by Sam Hornby.
The pressure continued to grow and Ethan Beckford and Lewis Doyle both came on as Nash pushed to preserve their presence in the cup.
Fylde were always a danger going forward, though, and Rowe – the most potent finisher in non-league football – should have sealed the game late on when he cut in form the right wing and bore down on goal. Once again Mason stood strong and parried the ball into the air allowing his defence to scramble it away to safety before it could cross the line.
Hornby wasn’t called into any further action as Fylde claimed the win they ultimately deserved, but the momentum from the Nash’s recent run of good results shouldn’t be halted as they prepare for a tough away trip to Brackley Town next week.
Match Report by Sam Hendry