Kellamergh Park stages its biggest ever match on Saturday as AFC Fylde face Ashton United for a place in the Football Conference.
Richie Allen booked Fylde’s place in the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off final with a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 3-1 home win over Worksop Town in the semis.
And the night became even better for Fylde when news came through that Ashton had shocked FC United of Manchester in the other semi-final, scoring in the last minute of normal and extra-time to seal a 2-1 win.
It meant that Fylde, who had sealed third place with Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Kings Lynn Town, would have home advantage in Saturday’s decider as the higher-placed finalist (Ashton finished fifth).
Tuesday night hadn’t started so well for the Coasters, as Worksop took the lead after 17 minutes, when Connor Higginson struck from just inside the box but Allen equalised within two minutes.
He then added the vital second goal after 65 minutes and sealed the win with his third deep into injury time from the penalty spot.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor was delighted his side came through to win but was quick to praise the opposition for putting up a great match.
He said: “You could tell it was an exciting game and there was plenty of nerves and there was a lot on the game.
“I don’t think we played that well and that’s credit to Worksop as they came and played at a real high tempo, got the ball forward, put the long throws and corners in the box and made us defend.
“I think we’ve shown a huge amount of spirit and a will to win the game rather than a great performance in terms of passing football. We had to really dig in and people have done their jobs.”
Worksop came out of the blocks flying and with 17 minutes on the clock struck a well-worked goal. Alex Pursehouse’s cross was headed into the path of Higginson and he blasted the ball into the net from 16 yards.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, as Michael Barnes managed to beat his marker, send a cross into the box from the left and Allen was on hand to half-volley home from the edge of the six-yard box and put the game level.
Worksop continued to cause problems and came close to retaking the lead themselves in the 31st minute.
Leon Mettam beat the Fylde defence and forced a point-blank save from Ben Hinchliffe only for Jack Mudoon to fire the rebound over.
Hinchliffe had to tip Adam Quinn’s close range header round the post before Tom Denton headed onto the post.
But Fylde struck gold once again thanks to some great forward play that allowed Allen to dance past a defender and goalkeeper to blast the ball into the goal from a tight angle and give Fylde a crucial lead with 25 minutes remaining.
Fylde had a big shout for a penalty waved away with 10 minutes remaining when Matty Blinkhorn’s header was stopped by what looked like a defender’s arm close to the goal line but the referee, Peter Gibbons, waved play on.
It was nail-biting from the perspective of both sets of supporters as the game entered the final minutes.
Jon Stewart was coming up for every Worksop corner and Craig Clay was very unlucky to see his shot deflected inches over the bar with seconds of normal time remaining.
But five minutes into injury time, victory was sealed when Dave Hankin was brought down in the box after a counter attack from another Worksop corner and Allen stepped up to complete his hat-trick.
Kick-off on Saturday will be at 3pm, with the winners to join league champions Chorley in Conference North.
CHRIS PARK AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hankin, Sumner, Langley, Russell, B Barnes (C), M Barnes (Lloyd 76), Winter, Blinkhorn, Booth (Hughes 82), Allen. Subs not used: Cooke, Noon, Gregory