Whitby Town once again found themselves behind the eight-ball early on after league leaders Fylde struck twice in 10 minutes, on Saturday.
Boss Darren Williams made two changes from the side humbled at West Auckland in midweek, with Shane Bland replacing Mark Cook in net and Richard Pell returning at centre-half.
Tom Portas dropped out with a hamstring injury, so Lee Bullock moved into midfield.
Bland was unlucky to see his terrific point-blank parry, from Matthew Blinkhorn’s drive, drop perfectly for the unmarked Matthew Hughes to smash home, in the fifth minute.
Soon after, disaster struck as Blinkhorn stooped to head past the Blues’ goalkeeper from Michael Barnes’ right-wing cross.
The shell-shocked Seasiders finally got going midway through the first half when Ibby Hassan got down the right and pulled back to the edge of the box, where Craig Farrell hooked well wide, on the turn. Pell then headed over the visitors’ crossbar from point-blank range, amid strong penalty appeals for a foul on Graeme Armstrong.
On the half hour, Blinkhorn missed a great chance at the far post and Adam Rundle should have punished him, seconds later, but could only fire tentatively, straight at Ben Hinchcliffe, when one-on-one with the ex-Derby keeper.
Farrell then brought a fine save from Hinchcliffe, with Shane Henry’s follow-up charged down, as Whitby ended the half on top.
At the other end, Barnes nodded over point-blank, while Rundle poked narrowly wide of Hinchcliffe’s left-hand post, five minutes before the break. Early in the second half, Hinchcliffe threw himself to his left to clutch Henry’s ferocious edge-of-the-box effort, though the ball arrived at a helpful height for the stopper.
Barnes missed a great chance when unmarked at the far post, while the lively Dan Lloyd should also have done better after intercepting Hassan’s short back-pass, but it was Whitby who struck at the other end, with 25 minutes remaining.
Henry’s deep left-wing cross was pushed out, at full stretch, by Hinchcliffe, but only as far as Rundle, whose goal-bound effort was blocked on the line. But substitute Lee Mason sent the ball back across the face of goal and, this time, Rundle volleyed past Hinchcliffe, on the run, from the left-edge of the box.
Town were then hit by another blow as Hassan limped off, but rather than adding himself in a straight swap, Williams pulled Henry back and sent on forward Nathan Mulligan, as he chased a second goal.
Lloyd headed over from a great position, after Barnes crossed from the right, while The Coasters hit the Blues crossbar twice in a matter of moments, with six minutes remaining. First, Joe Booth hammered a 25-yard free-kick against the woodwork, then as the away side built again down the right, Barnes’ cross-come-shot rattled the bar for a second time.
With six minutes of injury time announced, hopes were raised of a Town leveller, but Bland had to save well with his legs from Lloyd, before Armstrong directed a tough diving header wide from Rundle’s cross.
Williams was disappointed with what he-called “schoolboy errors” for Fylde’s early goals.
“I was pleased with the way we played for 75 minutes,” he said.
“We were in control of the game and we definitely deserved something out of it.
“We were unlucky to have that much possession and not get something.”
Williams also felt Town should have had two penalties.
“I just felt Army [Graeme Armstrong] was pushed, to be honest and the ball definitely hit the lad’s arm,” he added.
Co-operative Whitby WTFC Man of the Match: Adam Rundle
Whitby Town 1 AFC Fylde 2