AFC Fylde narrowly missed out on winning the Conference North league title on the final day of the Vanarama Conference season despite winning a ten goal thriller at Kellamergh Park.
The Coasters finished the league season in second place as they put six past Gloucester City, who themselves bagged four goals. The result means that Fylde will have to go through the play-offs to win promotion to the Conference North this season and their opponents are Guiseley this coming Wednesday night away from home, followed by the return leg at Kellamergh Park next Saturday.
A Danny Rowe hat-trick, a brace from Danny Lloyd and a solitary Dion Charles sixth and final goal saw off the resilient Gloucester City side who took the lead twice in a quite amazing game at Kellamergh Park.
It was a good start from The Coasters as Danny Rowe had the first attempt in the game, connecting with a cross from the right hand side, but his shot was blocked by a Gloucester defender and hit Rowe before going out for a goal kick.
Gloucester had plenty of the ball early on and they made it count after seven minutes, as Connor Thompson bundled the ball home from a yard out after a defensive mix up at the back between Hinchliffe and his defenders. It was a nightmare start for The Coasters, one which they certainly wouldn’t have been expecting.
The Coasters had a good chance to equalize through Josh Wilson’s header, but then on fourteen minutes, Danny Lloyd stepped up from 30 yards out to hit a free-kick through the wall into the back of the net as Rivers in the away goal completely misjudged the attempt. Fylde had found a quick route back into the game.
Just three minutes later, Fylde were awarded a penalty after Connolly dragged down Josh Wilson in the box. Danny Rowe stepped up to send Rivers the wrong way to put The Coasters 2-1 up after seventeen minutes. After a hectic opening twenty minutes in which the opening three goals were scored, the game settled down a bit, although Josh Wilson tried his luck from just outside the area but his sliced effort nearly vacated the stadium.
There was nothing in the game between the two Fylde goals and the equalizer, but it came after forty minutes when Chris Knowles’ bullet header found the back of Hinchliffe’s net to level the score at 2-2 just before the half-time break.
Within the first minute of the second half, The Coasters hit the bar after some excellent work down the right hand side by Luke Denson, and he crossed it into the area, a Gloucester defender then tried to deflect it clear but instead ended up crashing it against the underside of the bar. The Gloucester defender managed to clear it away, but it was a lucky escape for the away side.
The Coasters did get their third goal a couple of minutes later though, as a fine ball in from the right was tucked home with ease at the far post by Danny Rowe, who put away his 30th goal of the season for Fylde. The home side had started the second half very well and were now 3-2 up. The ever impressive Danny Lloyd then decided to take on a number of Gloucester defenders before firing a shot along the ground towards goal, but Rivers was more than equal to it.
Then came another equalizer, this time for the away side on 55 minutes. Harry White found time and space inside The Coasters penalty area to curl the ball into the bottom right hand corner past the diving Hinchliffe. That made it 3-3, and the game was finely poised going into the final half an hour.
Just two minutes later, Hinchliffe brought down Nick Wright in the box to give Gloucester City a penalty after 59 minutes. Billy Jones stepped up to take and fired it past Hinchliffe who guessed the right way but couldn’t stop the ball from reaching the back of the net. Amazingly, Gloucester had the lead when just five minutes earlier they were losing.
Harvey Rivers then produced a spectacular save to deny Richie Baker a goal which would have made it 4-4 just a few minutes later. Baker’s header from just a couple of yards out looked destined to bring the game level but Rivers magnificent stop meant that the score stayed in Gloucester’s favour.
The third penalty of the game was given after 64 minutes, when Danny Lloyd was abruptly brought down by Mike Green. Once again, Danny Rowe stepped up to score – his second hat-trick in as many games – as he sent Rivers the wrong way. 4-4 and the goals just kept flowing in this remarkable game.
The 68 minute mark saw the best goal of the game as Danny Lloyd hit a sweet free-kick from 30 yards out, it cannoned off the bar into the back of the net to give The Coasters the lead in the game yet again. Adam Sumner then swung in a terrific left footed free-kick towards the head of Tom Hannigan but it looped just over the bar and then Danny Rowe tried his luck from 25 yards with a ferocious right footed shot but it had too much power on it as it sailed over the bar.
The sixth and final goals for The Coasters came from substitute Dion Charles just five minutes after coming on as a substitute. Danny Lloyd found Charles in acres of space on the right hand side and the winger found the bottom corner as he fired past Rivers to score the tenth goal of the game.
Luke Denson then had an effort which was comfortable for Rivers before Knowles had a very late chance to get another consolation for Gloucester but his effort went wide. A remarkable game which sets the Coasters up nicely for the play-offs.
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hughes (34), Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, Barnes ©, Baker, Wilson, Rowe (73), Lloyd, Barnes (68)
Subs: Booth, Denson (34), Tomsett, Blinkhorn (73), Charles (68)
Goals: Lloyd (14, 67) Rowe (17, 48 & 64) Charles (73)
Yellow: Denson (38) Hinchliffe (58)
Gloucester City: Rivers, Green ©, Jones, Williams, Avery, Connolly, Thompson (84), Knowles, Wright (76), White (84), Orenuga
Subs: Richards, Modest (76), Kabba (84), Staley (84), White
Goal: Thompson (7) Knowles (40) White (55) Jones (59)
MOM: Danny Lloyd
REFEREE: Paul Davison