Salford City 0 AFC Fylde 1: Alex Reid scores winner as Coasters boss Dave Challinor's planning pays off
Alex Reid’s first-half strike earned play-off bound Fylde all three points at Salford City and dealt their hosts' title hopes a massive blow.
Fylde now know they will contest the first round of the play-off competition on Wednesday or Thursday next week, when they will be at home to Harrogate or Eastleigh.
The Coasters started in a very positive fashion at Moor Lane, where Salford's strong defence limited the visitors to half-chances early on - Dan Bradley trying his luck from distance.
Liam Hogan had Salford's first shot of note but the defender's curler from distance rose wide.
The Coasters countered wonderfully as a sublime crossfield pass by Ryan Croasdale dropped invitingly for Andy Bond 20 yards out but his clean strike was saved low by former Fleetwood Town keeper Chris Neal.
The game came alive, though Adam Rooney's improvised back-heel couldn't fool Fylde keeper Jay Lynch, facing his former club.
Salford grew into the game and threatened from set-pieces, Mani Dieseruvwe arriving just too late with a diving header from a corner.
Fylde weathered the storm magnificently and hit back with the winning goal on 31 minutes.
Neill Byrne’s long ball fell to Bond and his shot was deflected to the feet of Reid, who swivelled and buried a low drive beyond Neal.
The visitors had a chance to double their lead when Zaine Francis-Angol's cross caused bedlam in the Ammies penalty area and the ball fell for Bradley, who mishit his shot wide from four yards.
Salford manager Graham Alexander introduced Rory Gaffney, who pulled the strings in the second half and kept the home fans full of faith.
Carl Piergianni's header goalwards from a throw was collected by Lynch, who was promptly clattered by Liam Hogan.
The league's top scorer Danny Rowe had two great chances for Fylde in quick succession, drilling a low shot just wide of Neal's left post before heading straight at the keeper from Reid's cross to the back-post.
Salford pressed on with their direct style as Gus Mafuta sent a half-volley swirling over the bar.
Salford substitutes Matt Green and Tom Walker combined to create a heading opportunity for Alex Gaffney but Lynch saved his effort acrobatically.
The keeper had to be at his best again to tip away Mafuta's effort from a corner.
As the Fylde goal came under a relentless barrage, Green went through one-on-one six yards out but again Lynch came out on top
With Salford desperate for an equaliser, Croasdale almost sneaked the ball past Neal for a second, though the one goal would be enough for Fylde.
Orient are now three points clear of second-placed Salford with a superior goal difference heading into Saturday's final round of fixtures.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor said: "We put a plan in place that would deal with what they would throw at us. We chose the team who are best out of possession, so we were missing technical players like Nick (Haughton) and James (Hardy).
"But we needed everyone to pull their sleeves up and match them physically, which can be difficult when you’re a foot shorter than the opposition.
"We dealt with what came our way, and I thought the work rate and the desire to keep the ball out of our net was superb.
“I said to some of the players today this would be their last game before the play-offs. I know Rowey will be desperate to play (at home to Halifax Town on Saturday) as he wants to stay top of the goalscoring charts but the focus has to be on that quarter-final. We need everyone in their best state for that.”
Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Francis-Angol, Byrne, Tunnicliffe, Bond, Croasdale, Bradley, Walters (Philliskirk 74), Reid (Haughton 88), Rowe (Odusina 90); subs not used: Hardy, Tasdemir
Salford: Neal, Wiseman (Walker 69), Hogan, Pond, Piergianni, Touray, Maynard, Redmond (Gaffney 45) , Mafuta, Dieseruvwe (Green 69), Rooney; subs not used : Crocombe, Linganzi.
Referee: Sam Purkiss