Coasting towards the champions’ accolade

AFC Fylde v Radcliffe Borough. Richie Allen on a run.
AFC Fylde v Radcliffe Borough. Richie Allen on a run.
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Warrington Town 0 AFC Fylde 1

Second-placed Curzon Ashton’s 3-1 defeat of Lancaster keeps the title race alive going into the final week of the season, but Fylde have retained their four-point advantage with only two games to play.

The Coasters made a typically strong start at Cantilever Park, and could have been a goal up inside 11 minutes.

Richie Allen made a great run to the by-line and played the ball back into the path of Jimmy McCarthy, whose shot from 10 yards deflected off a defender and on to the post.

Five minutes later, Paul Jarvis came close when he tried to chip the keeper but his shot went agonisingly wide.

At 20 minutes, the visitors had a penalty shout waved away when Joe Booth’s free-kick lipped the arm of a defender.

Allen then had two chances within a minute to break the deadlock – the better of these an eight-yard bullet header from a corner, which was tipped over.

The best chance for the home side fell to captain Michael Tomlinson in the 31st minute, but his header from a great cross was directed straight at the waiting Zac Jones.

Fylde continued to dominate play, but struggled to find a way past Pritchard. The ball was cleared off the Warrington line twice in the 33rd minute after a goalmouth scramble. At least three Fylde players could have scored – the final shot coming from Bradley Barnes.

Barnes was denied again a minute later, this time by the pitch as the ball bobbled from Allen’s lay-off and he sliced his shot way wide.

Fylde’s hopes of being crowned champions on Saturday disappeared with Curzon three up at half-time, but they returned for the second half determined to find the all-important opening goal.

Barnes again shot wide before Allen sent a header narrowly over, but on 58 minutes the Coasters’ persistence finally paid off.

Allen was played through brilliantly by Booth, beating the offside trap to go one-on-one with the keeper.

The striker calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal to give the visitors a well deserved lead.

The home side played the better football in midfield from that point but Glenn Steel stood firm in the Fylde defence, his fantastic block denying Chris Thompson on 72 minutes. A moment later, Thompson was caught offside when through on goal.

Allen tried his luck from a tight angle on 77 minutes before making way for Mike Galliers.

The Coasters had to survive a final scare, when Warrington won a free-kick in a dangerous position as the clock ticked round to 90 minutes.

The ball was swung in from the left and fell for Tomlinson but he could only guide his shot into the arms of Jones.

Fylde could be champions tonight, if Curzon lose at home to Ossett Town; otherwise, Dave Challinor’s side can seal the title at home to Salford tomorrow.

CHRIS PARK

Fylde: Jones, Holden, Sumner, Doughty, Steel (C), B. Barnes, McCarthy (Kay 77), Booth, Jarvis, M. Barnes (McEvilly 81), Allen (Galliers 86); Subs not used: Mercer, McDonald.