AFC Fylde 2, Clitheroe 0
CHAMPIONS Fylde rounded off their superb season with a perfect ten.
A second-half brace from star striker Richie Allen sealed a tenth successive victory for the Evo-Stik First Division North winners, who kept a ninth successive clean sheet.
Having clinched the title last Tuesday with victory over Salford City, the Coasters were determined to complete their campaign in style as a season’s best crowd of 506 packed into Kellamergh Park to see the trophy presented.
Fylde started strongly, and within 15 minutes could have been 3-0 up.
First Harry Winter, then Joe Booth missed early chances before a fantastic ball from Jimmy McCarthy fed Booth on the edge of the box, but he decided to square the ball to Paul Jarvis when he could have taken the shot on himself.
With 19 minutes gone, Jarvis made a great run from deep and found himself in space to shoot, but defender Jack Higgins threw himself in front of the ball to head it over for a corner.
A minute later, Booth hit the post with a free-kick before Allen was played through on goal by McCarthy’s lob but his shot was straight at keeper Zach Hibbery.
Clitheroe just couldn’t get a look in as the Coasters tried their hardest to break the deadlock.
McCarthy fired a rebounded ball over the bar from close range, then on 35 minutes Hibbery made a fantastic save to deny Allen’s first-time shot from inside the six-yard box.
After two wasted free-kicks earlier in the half, the visitors’ first shot from open play came a minute before the break when Oliver Devenney fired wide of Zac Jones’ goal.
Into the second half, it was Clitheroe’s Alex Johnson who got the first shot but fired it wide of the mark.
Another shot from Booth from 20 yards out flew inches wide on 68 minutes and Nat Taylor latched on to a great ball from Glodi Kuba-Kuba, but his cross was too early for his team-mates to reach.
Fylde kicked-on in the final 15 minutes, though, and the deadlock was finally broken.
Bradley Barnes forced a good save from Hibbery on 75 minutes, then, three minutes later, Allen scored a beauty of a goal.
Collecting the ball 30 yards out, he surged forwards and took a shot from range, which took a slight deflection past the full-stretch keeper and into the bottom right corner.
Just as Fylde looked set for a third successive 1-0 victory, all with winners from Allen, the on-loan striker from Fleetwood Town made four in three games and 27 for the Coasters this season with a second four minutes from time. Substitutes Lee McEvilly and Michael Barnes had been making some surging runs forward and it was the latter, released down the right by Winter, who crossed for Allen to dink a header over the oncoming keeper.
Manager Dave Challinor was rightly delighted to end the season in such style, but is already focusing on the hard work of building for life in the Premier Division – the third level of non-league and the highest in the club’s history.
n FYLDE trailed Curzon Ashton by 16 points in November, but finished seven points clear of the runners-up from Ashton-under-Lyne, who face Garforth in tonight’s play-off semi-final for the right to face Witton or Farsley in the final on Saturday.
AFC FYLDE: Jones, Heywood, Sumner (McEvilly 65), Doughty, Steel (C), B. Barnes, McCarthy (M. Barnes 60), Booth (Kay 75), Jarvis, Winter, Allen; Subs not used: McDonald, Mercer.