AFC Fylde 4 Worcester City 2: Full match report
Danny Rowe's 50th goal of the season helped to ensure that National North champions AFC Fylde signed off in style as they celebrated their title triumph on the final day of the season at a packed Mill Farm.
Having secured top spot with victory at Boston seven days earlier, it was celebration day for the Coasters but a Worcester side in need of at least a point to avoid relegation were determined to play party poopers.
Indeed, the visitors took the lead inside two minutes only for Matt Blinkhorn to level soon afterwards Rowe’s landmark strike put Fylde ahead before Worcester dragged themselves back into the contest from the penalty spot shortly after half-time
Andy Bond made it three for the Coasters and fellow midfielder Richie Baker put the icing on the cake in the dying moments with an emphatic finish.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor made several changes, once again going with a front two. However, it was City who got off to a flyer when Jordan Keane whipped in a cross from left over the head of Matty Hughes and Eddy Nelson-Addy took a a touch before letting fly.
His initial effort was saved by Taylor but the midfielder swept home the loose ball from point-blank range.
Leading marksman Rowe, who was presented with two awards by the National League ahead of the match including Player of the Year, tried his luck from distance but could only drag his low strike wide.
It was one-way traffic after the goal, with Fylde enjoying plenty of possession, and captain Josh Langley went close to finding a leveller 20 minutes in when he nodded narrowly wide from Brendon Daniels’ inswinging corner.
However two minutes later Fylde found the equaliser. David Morgan delivered an inviting ball in from the right and Blinkhorn did fantastically well to get ahead of his marker at the near post and sweep the ball home.
Hughes should have got himself on the scoresheet when he broke free down the right but his shot flashed across the face of goal and agonisingly wide of the far post.
The main man was soon in on the act, though, and it was yet another milestone for frontman Rowe. The league’s top goalscorer stole the ball off Sam Oji on the edge of the area before powering an unstoppable strike through goalkeeper Nathan Vaughan.
Bohan Dixon slapped a long-range drive towards the Worcester City goal that was comfortable for Vaughan as the half drew to a close.
Taylor was called into action moments after the restart, when he acrobatically pushed Keane’s curling cross-shot from the right away from danger.
However, the goalkeeper went from hero to zero seconds later, when he was adjudged to have brought down Murphy in the area. Full-back Tyler Weir stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way to level the scores.
The champions weren’t to be kept down for long and regained the lead shortly before the hour mark. Daniels swung another telling ball into the box and Bond expertly volleyed home from close range.
The visitors, who as it stood faced relegation, still had some fight left in them and almost pulled level again when Keane lashed a vicious strike inches over the top.
Nelson-Addy spurned an even better chance with the very next attack but blazed over from six yards, leaving Worcester supporters with head in hands.
Rowe went in search of the all-time club goalscoring record of 119 (scored for the Coasters by Richie Allen) and with 10 minutes left he lined up for a set-piece from fully 35 yards, but Vaughan got his body behind his fierce strike.
The match was put to bed in the 85th minute and it was a first goal of the season for Baker.
Substitute Serhat Tasdemir bundled a ball through to Blinkhorn, who in turn slipped in the unmarked Baker 10 yards from goal and the midfielder beat Vaughan with aplomb.
It means Fylde have won the league by a six-point margin from longtime rivals Kidderminster, who will contest the play-offs with Halifax, Salford and Chorley.x.
AFC Fylde: Taylor, M. Hughes (C.Hughes 59), Langley, Kennedy, Daniels, Dixon (Tasdemir 84), Morgan, Bond, Bradley (Baker 73), Blinkhorn, Rowe.
Subs not used: Thompson, K. Kennedy.
Worcester: Vaughan, Gallinagh, Weir, Oji, Hutchinson, Jackman, Nelson-Addy, J. Keane, English, Murphy, C. Keane.
Subs not used: Sharpe, Ross, Bates, Tilbury, Rose
Ref: Paul Graham