AFC Fylde 1 Barnet 0: Another Danny Rowe cracker makes certain of play-off spot

Nick Haughton's cross is punched clear by Barnet keeper Mark Cousins  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Nick Haughton's cross is punched clear by Barnet keeper Mark Cousins Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
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Fylde made absolutely certain of their place in the play-offs with victory over a Barnet side who played most of the game with 10 men

READ MORE: Challinor's Wembley incentives for Fylde squad

Danny Rowe’s first-half volley ensured the Coasters can finish no lower than their current position of fifth in the National League after this 15th home win of the season.

Manager Dave Challinor rang the changes following the defeat at relegated Braintree Town six days earlier, with Andy Bond, Liam Burke and Tom Crawford all recalled as Fylde switched to 4-3-3.

The north London club started strongly as Fylde's Ryan Croasdale picked up an early yellow card and Jack Taylor was unlucky not to put the the visitors in front when his shot was blocked on the line by team-mate Callum Reynolds.

The Bees were the better side in the opening exchanges and Ephraim Mason-Clark's fierce shot flew just wide after a driving run.

It took more than 15 minutes for Fylde to get a foothold and their first chance of note came to nothing following an exquisite pass by Crawford - Rowe tried to play the ball back to Dan Bradley rather than pulling the trigger himself.

However, the next time these three players combined the result was altogether different and Rowe had his 27th league goal of the season.

Another beautiful ball from Crawford on 21 minutes was nodded back by Bradley to Rowe, who guided his volley from 25 yards into the bottom left corner, giving keeper Mark Cousins no chance.

Barnet had chances to draw level, the best falling to Dan Sweeney, who was first to a deep cross to the far post but headed wide. The defender's next involvement was one of much debate.

Nick Haughton was brought down by a full-blooded tackle by Sweeney, who was shown a straight red card by referee Joe Hull on 34 minutes. The defender got none of the ball, though on another day the card could have been yellow.

With the extra man, Fylde started the second half far better than they had the first, creating plenty of chances with their free-flowing football.

Rowe, Croasdale and Bradley all had chances within 10 minutes as Fylde sought to make their advantage count.

Crawford went closest to doubling the lead, curling his shot just over the top after a short corner routine reached him on the edge of the box.

As Barnet chased the game to avoid a third straight defeat, they left themselves open on the counter, though Rowe skewed a shot harmlessly behind after collecting Bradley's low pass to the corner of the box.

Luke Burke enjoyed himself on the right, opening up the Bees' back-line brilliantly at times.

The introduction of Danny Philliskirk and Serhat Tasdemir posed more problems for the tiring visitors, the former seeing a header from a corner cleared off the line.

Barnet continued to pose a threat and a linesman's flag denied Mason-Clark the chance to challenge keeper Jay Lynch one on one.

Fylde can no longer finish in the top two but they will have a major say in the title race when they visit second-placed Salford City on Monday.

Coasters boss Challinor said: "Obviously we’re really pleased to win, and the first 15 minutes showed how tough it was - we couldn’t get close to them.

"In possession we were sloppy but 10 minutes in we found a bit more belief and grew into the game.”

“We scored a great goal and we were able to play against Barnet in the way that suited us, frustrating them.”

“Once the sending-off came, we needed to be safe in possession and as a result they didn't have too many serious chances.”

“The (red card) challenge was a bad one. My initial reaction was that is was a high one, although not malicious.

“If he went in lower it's a yellow all day, and as much as you don’t like red cards I think it was a red, without a massive amount of intent.”

Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Francis-Angol, Byrne, Tunnicliffe, Croasdale, Bond, Crawford (Philliskirk 70), Bradley (Tasdemir 76), Haughton (Hardy 84), Rowe; subs not used: Birch, Reid

Barnet: Cousins, Alexander, Johnson, Boucaud (Robson 58), Taylor, Reynolds, Taylor, Elito (Akinola 62), Sweeney, Mason-Clark, Coulthirst (Tarpey 68); subs not used: Matrevics, Fonguck

Referee: Joe Hull

Attendance; 1,489