Manager Dave Challinor described Fylde’s heaviest defeat of the season “the most abject performance I’ve ever been associated with as a manager”.
Midfielder Jordan Hulme scored a hat-trick for Fylde’s promotion rivals, while Billy Priestley and Mike Phenix scored the others to condemn the Coasters to their fourth defeat of the campaign, though they retained their nine-point lead at the top as Salford climbed to second place.
Midfielder Tom Holland, signed on loan from Swansea City last Tuesday, was handed his debut in place of the injured Andy Bond, while Richie Baker replaced Brendon Daniels.
There was an early scare for Holland when he collided with Salford’s former Fleetwood Town defender Simon Grand going for a loose ball, but both were back on their feet after play was halted for several minutes.
The Coasters almost broke the deadlock on the 10-minute mark, when Baker’s corner was met by the head of Dom Collins but Dan Bradley couldn’t beat the goalkeeper with a goalbound flick.
However, it was the hosts that drew first blood three minutes later. Josh Hine launched a long throw into the box and Priestley flicked a header into the far corner of the goal.
Hine himself was close to adding his name to the scoresheet but Rhys Taylor was quickly off his line to smother striker’s effort.
But the hosts did double their lead inside 15 minutes, when a corner was cleared only as far as Hulme and the midfielder struck a low first-time shot into the bottom corner.
The momentum was with home side and Priestley really should have grabbed his second when the ball dropped to him in the area, but he lashed a left-footed effort over the bar.
Priestley was proving a real thorn in the side of the Fylde backline and fired an ambitious overhead kick into the crowd as the Coasters struggled to clear.
Caspar Hughes found a rare opportunity to shoot but his attempt from the edge of the area was rushed and well over the bar.
Bradley hooked an attempt wide as the whistle went to end an underwhelming half for the visitors.
Salford fashioned the first chance of the second period from another long throw into the area but Patrick Brough lashed well over.
How Salford didn’t extend their lead further was a mystery as Michael Nottingham headed just over after an almighty goalmouth scramble.
The let-off appeared to kick-start Fylde into gear and Bradley saw a shot blocked from 10 yards after the first real passing move of the match from the visitors.
Former Fylde man Brad Barnes tried his luck as the momentum shifted back in the hosts’ favour but his vicious volley from 20 yards was clawed out of the top corner by keeper Taylor.
The Coasters were certainly looking more likely after the break and Bohan Dixon wasn’t far wide with a low drive from distance.
The towering midfielder powered through a minute later but was adjudged to have dived by the referee after racing into the box.
However, Salford put the game out of sight with 15 minutes left to play. Hine scuffed a low shot towards the back post from the edge of the box and there was top scorer Phenix to apply the finishing touch.
Collins had a chance to grab a consolation goal for the shell-shocked visitors, when Steve Williams headed a corner back across goal, but the defender couldn’t get a strong enough connection and goalkeeper Jay Lynch pounced on the ball.
Rowe had his only real opportunity of the afternoon when Daniels did well to dig out cross from the left but the Coasters marksman put his first time strike narrowly wide.
The hosts grabbed a fourth goal in the final minute of normal time. A header at the back post crashed back off the bar but Hulme was quickest to react in the middle and forced the ball over the line.
It was to get worse for Fylde in the fifth minute of added time, when the hosts were awarded a penalty for a trip on substitute Nick Haughton, their deadline-day loan signing from Fleetwood. Hulme stepped up to complete his hat-trick with a chipped spot-kick down the middle.
Fylde boss Challinor said: “I wear my heart on my sleeve and that was the most abject performance I’ve ever been associated with as a manager.
“You can hide around players that are missing. Every single player in there will tell me that they should be in that team. That performance tells me something that I already knew - that they shouldn’t be in the team. We need to get bodies in quickly.
“We’ve got ourselves in a good position and this would have been a tough enough game as it was with a full-strength team. We knew that they would be a threat from set-pieces. We’ve got a big enough team there to deal with things.
“That just comes down to a lack of desire. We started the game well. For the first 12 minutes, we were on the front foot and in their half. As soon as the ball goes near our goal, we look like we’re going to concede.
“The goals are absolutely horrific. We’ve worked on things. We gave warning after warning of what they would do.
“Salford work hard. They’re in a good position in the league and they will be up there challenging come the end of the season, but they didn’t do anything that we didn’t tell the players that they were going to do.”
DANIEL AGNEW AND CHRISTOPHER COUGHLIN
AFC Fylde: Taylor, Wilson, Williams, Collins, Kennedy, Holland (Daniels 67), Baker, C. Hughes, Bradley, Dixon (Blinkhorn 66), Rowe; Not used: Thompson, Tasdemir.
Salford: Lynch, Nottingham, Brough, Burton, Grand, Priestley, Hulme, Barnes, Phenix (Johnston 81), Green (King 73), Hine (Haughton 81) Not used: Dootson, Howson.
Ref: Will Finnie