Richie Allen was AFC Fylde’s hero of the night as he bagged all three goals to secure a place in Saturday’s Play-off Final and beat a spirited Worksop side who threw everything at the match.
The visitors took the lead on 17 minutes when Connor Higginson struck from just inside the box but Allen equalised within two minutes.
He then added the vital second goal on 65 minutes and sealed the win with his third deep into injury time from the penalty spot.
Worksop came out of the blocks flying and immediately put Fylde on the back foot in the first 10 minutes but it was the home side who came closest to opening the scoring.
Allen had a header saved by Jon Stewart before Harry Winter’s deflected shot trickled towards the goal only for Alex Pursehouse to hook his effort off the line.
But with 17 minutes on the clock Worksop struck a well-worked goal. 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 though 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 pull the game level.
Fylde were unlucky not to take the lead after some great passing play between Joe Booth and Matt Blinkhorn which gave Winter the chance to try and curl a shot round Stewart, but the Worksop keeper watched it all the way and gathered comfortably on 27 minutes.
Worksop continued to cause problems and came even closer 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 the bar just six yards out.
Tom Burgin then headed a corner narrowly over in first half stoppage time for the visitors.
The second period started just as tense with battles for possession in midfield but neither side could take a stranglehold of the game early on.
The first effort on target saw Blinkhorn’s shot saved well by Stewart before Worksop began piling more pressure on the Fylde box with the aid of long throws and corners aimed towards their towering centre forward, Tom Denton.
It was one of those dangerous long throws that saw the visitors come perilously close to a second goal as Hinchliffe had to tip Adam Quinn’s diving header around the post before Denton headed against the base of the upright from the resulting corner.
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.
Hinchliffe came to the rescue twice inside six minutes as, first he saved Denton’s low shot through a crowded box before denying Mettam an equaliser, either side of Shane Clarke’s shot which flew across the face of the Fylde goal.
Fylde had a big shout for a penalty waved away with ten minutes remaining when 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. 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, sending Stewart the wrong way and giving The Coasters an unassailable two goal lead.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor was delighted his side came through to win but was quick to praise the opposition for putting up a great fight: “You could tell it was an exciting game and there was plenty of nerves and an 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 really 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.”
Challinor added: “We’ve gone one better than last year but we’re still only half way at the moment so we’ll recover and return to go again on Saturday. It’ll take another monumental effort to win the game.”
The Coasters will now welcome Ashton United to Kellamergh Park on Saturday after the Tameside club shocked FC United in the other Semi Final to win 2-1 with a winner in stoppage time of extra time at Gigg Lane.
Kick off on Saturday will be 3pm.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hankin, Sumner, Langley, Russell, B. Barnes (C), M. Barnes (Lloyd 76), Winter, Blinkhorn,