AFTER arriving late due to an accident on the M6, the Seagulls conceded three goals in a disastrous opening seven minutes to lose 6-2 at Dave Challinor’s promotion-chasing AFC Fylde.
To their credit they re-organised, and for much of the rest of game competed well and played some good football.
With three defenders and keeper Chris Sanna all missing through injury, Fylde ruthlessly exposed the makeshift rearguard in the opening minutes.
Rookie keeper Gaz Rees made a nightmare start by spilling a shot from Richie Allen and presenting a gift opening goal for Danny Rowe after just 88 seconds, but he recovered his composure well and later made an outstanding penalty save.
Allen cut in from the right to rifle a second gal into the top corner on five minutes, and two minutes later headed the third after Rees had made an excellent diving one-handed save from Danny Lloyd.
Obi Anoruo rounded home keeper Hinchliffe to pull a goal back, but two minutes later Allen scored from the penalty spot, after Holsgrove was judged to have tripped him, to complete his hat-trick in a whirlwind start to the game which saw FIVE goals scored in the opening 12 minutes!
The Seagulls made a switch with Mike Lea moving to left back to deal with the threat of Allen, while Holsgrove moved to centre back with Chris Noone and did well (although he says he has never played there before) with Tom Buckley pushed back into midfield.
That certainly settled things down and after Rob Hopley had a goal disallowed for a foul on the keeper, and Anoruo and Hopley had both missed the target with reasonable half-chances, James Ellison pulled a second goal back to 4-2 from the penalty spot on 43 minutes after the referee ruled he had been fouled by Tom Hannigan.
That gave the Seagulls a glimmer of hope at the break, but a fifth goal for Fylde early in the second half, rifled in by Rowe, ended any hopes of a comeback.
Colwyn Bay continued to push forward and Anoruo had a shot brilliantly turned for a corner at point blank range by Hinchliffe and Holsgrove was inches wide after a strong run through the middle, before a second Fylde penalty, harshly awarded against Mike Lea, saw Allen score again from the spot for his fourth of the game on 76 minutes.
Fylde got yet another penalty on 85 minutes for a trip by Chris Noone, but this time Gaz Rees flung himself to his left to make a great save and turn Allen’s spot kick for a corner.
Just to cap Bay’s day, skipper Marc Williams was denied a goal right at the end when his header from a corner hit the bar and bounced clear.
Although Stalybridge won at Guiseley, Leamington’s home defeat to Lowestoft means the Bay stay out of the bottom three for now, with three massive games left.
Manager Gus Williams praised the football his side played after that awful start and said: “I’ve just said to the players in the dressing room, if they show the same desire, commitment and character in the final three games then we will give ourselves a chance – and if you have a chance then you have to believe it is possible.”
He admitted he was surprised by the awful start, but said: “After their observations of our game last Saturday, they clearly identified our left back berth as an area where they could capitalise early on and they did that – although a lot of it was down to ourselves.
“We were a lot more stable after we made the changes to address that situation, and in the end, with the football we played after those opening minutes, it was never a 6-2 game; never.”
“People at home will find that hard to believe, but two of their three penalties were unbelievable decisions for me – and we’ve been denied one when Obi was brought down.”
The manager says he is hopeful that Chris Sanna and Jonathan Royle will be fit enough to return next Saturday.
“We could have pushed Chris into playing today, but would have risked losing him the last three games,” he said.
“We always knew these two games in three days would be tough with all the injuries we’ve got, but now we can focus fully on getting the points we need in the last three games.”
Colwyn Bay: Rees, Baynes, Buckley, Noone, Lea, Holsgrove, Anoruo, Haywood, Hopley, Williams (c), Ellison (Seddon 81 mins). Subs not used: Jones (kpr), Saiel, Hodgson, Bakker.
WORCESTER scored a 93rd minute equaliser to crucially deny Brackley Town victory in a 1-1 draw on Tuesday – a result which keeps the Seagulls out of the bottom three.