AFC Fylde 4 Hartlepool United 2: Late strikes knock the wind out of Pools' sails as National League top scorer bags double

Pools' players celebrate their equaliser.
Pools' players celebrate their equaliser.

Hartlepool United failed to make it a hat-trick of comeback results as they were beaten by two late AFC Fylde strikes in a 4-2 loss.

Danny Rowe gave the hosts the lead after just two minuted before Ryan Donaldson equalised.

A Fraser Kerr own goal then put the Coasters in front before Josh Hawkes' goal straight from a corner deservedly put a plucky Pools on level terms.

But with time ticking away Rowe bagged a second before substitute Lewis Walters made it 4-2 in added time.

As expected, manager Craig Hignett switched formation for the visit to the north west, moving from a three man backline to a 4-2-3-1.

In terms of personnel Hignett also switched things up, bringing match-winner Luke Molyneux into the side for Mark Kitching, as well as Peter Kioso for Liam Noble, who was benched.

The changes were positive, but the start Pools made was anything but.

National League top scorer Rowe was in no mood to mess around as he cracked home left-footed after some hesitant defending by Pools' new look backline.

It was almost 2-0 soon after when a cross from the right was met by Ryan Tunnicliffe but the defender's header was woefully wide from six yards. It was a let off for Pools.

With Storm Gareth sweeping in off the Irish Sea, pot shots from strikers of both sides began to fly in as Scott Loach and opposite number Jay Lynch could barely spot the ball for a goalkick, never mind clear it out.

With the ball swirling all over, in-form Luke James skidded an effort inches past Lynch's post as Pools went in search of an equaliser.

Growing in confidence the Pools midfield again opened up the Coasters' defence as Nicke Kabamba this time streaked free. Skipping inside his defender the on-loan Havant frontman then let loose with a vicious left-footed drive but it was beaten away by Lynch.

Having struggled to get to grip with the hosts early on, Pools ended the half the better of the sides - like last weekend, though, they went in at the break behind.

As the hosts had done in the opening 45, Pools sprung out the traps in the second period - and they had to wait less than a minute for their equaliser.

Donaldson picked the ball up on the right, 30 yards from goal and with the wind causing Loach problems at that end in the first half, the skipper tried his luck. With Lynch rooted to his spot the ball flew into the bottom corner for 1-1.

On top and searching for another Pools got caught at the other end - a cross from the right caught the knee of a backtracking Kerr and ricocheted into the back of the net.

Pools then had to weather a bit of a storm as the home side got on top. Scott Loach had to be at his very best to deny Nick Haughton as his back post strike forced the Pools keeper into a remarkable reaction stop. From the rebound Kerr had to hack clear off the line as the ball looped in the wind.

Said wind continued to cause havoc at both ends and had a massive hand in both Pools' equaliser and Fylde's third

With the cornerflags being blown horizontal, Hawkes decided to try his luck from a corner and much to the travelling Poolies delight, the ball floated directly into the net for 2-2.

Ten minutes remained, though, when Rowe was this time the recipient of the crazy conditions. A cross from the right flicked up off Hawkes, got caught in the wind and flew into the six yard box for the National League top scorer to nod in.

Lewis Walters added a late fourth when a Serhat Tasdemir strike came back off the post, as Pools failed to emulate their heroics of Sutton and Dover.