AFC Fylde 6, Gloucester City 4
Victory in a 10-goal thriller wasn’t enough to seal the Vanarama Conference North title and automatic promotion for Fylde on the final day of the season.
Barrow defied a second-half fightback at Lowestoft to win 3-2 and preserve their two-point advantage over the second-placed Coasters.
It means that if Fylde are to seal a second successive promotion, they must again do so via the play-offs.
Their opponents in the two-legged semi-finals are fifth-placed Guiseley, with the first encounter in West Yorkshire on Wednesday.
Gloucester led twice in an amazing game at Kellamergh Park, moving 4-3 ahead on the hour only for Fylde to seal victory three goals in nine minutes as Danny Rowe completed a second successive hat-trick and man of the match Danny Lloyd netted twice.
Rowe looked in predatory mood from their start as he met a cross from right only to see his shot blocked. The ball then rebounded off the striker for a goal-kick.
But Gloucester had plenty of early possession and took the lead on seven minutes, when Connor Thompson bundled the ball home from close-range after a mix-up between keeper Ben Hinchliffe and his defenders.
The Coasters went close to an equaliser with Josh Wilson’s header but were on level terms after 14 minutes, when Lloyd struck a 30-yard free-kick through the wall and into the back of the net, Gloucester keeper Harvey Rivers completely misjudging the shot.
Just three minutes later, Rivers was picking the ball out of his net again after Adam Connolly dragged down Wilson in the box and Rowe sent the keeper the wrong way with the penalty.
After a hectic opening 20 minutes, the game settled down a bit, Wilson trying his luck from just outside the area with a sliced shot which almost ended up outside the ground.
There was nothing to choose between the sides and the visitors equalised five minutes before half-time with a bullet header from Chris Knowles.
Gloucester almost gifted the Coasters the lead again with an own goal in the opening seconds of the second half, when an attempted clearance crashed against the bar following a cross by Luke Denson, who did superbly down the right.
Fylde were in front on 48 minutes, when Rowe netted his 30th goal of the season at the far post. Lloyd went close to his second of the day but Rivers was more than equal to the striker’s low shot.
The twists and turns continued as Gloucester made it 3-3 on 55 minutes, Harry White finding time and space in the box to beat the diving Hinchliffe with a curling shot into the bottom right corner.
Hinchliffe then brought down Nick Wright in the box and couldn’t stop Billy Jones’ penalty on 59 minutes, despite going the right way.
Two goals in four minutes had turned the game around and Rivers kept Gloucester in front with a magnificent save from Richie Baker’s point-blank header.
However, he was powerless to deny Rowe his hat-trick on 64 minutes, when Lloyd was abruptly halted by Mike Green and the third penalty of this remarkable game was awarded.
The goal of the game on 68 minutes put Fylde back in front as Lloyd’s sweet 30-yard free-kick cannoned in off the bar.
Tom Hannigan’s header then looped over the bar from Adam Sumner’s terrific free-kick and then Rowe’s ferocious 25-yard shot sailed over.
It was substitute Dion Charles, who sealed the victory just five minutes after coming on. Lloyd found him in acres of space down the right and the winger found the bottom corner to take the game’s goal tally into double figures with 17 minutes still remaining.
That ended the goal feast, though Denson had an effort comfortably saved by Rivers and Knowles shot wide for Gloucester late on.
The Coasters return to Kellamergh Park for the second Guiseley game on Saturday and would have home advantage in any final, against Boston or Chorley.