AFC Fylde 1, Chester FC 3
AFC FyldE lost their final game of the Evo-Stik Division One North season, meaning a fifth-placed finish and the toughest assignment in the play-offs.
Strictly speaking Chester still need a point from Friday’s final fixture at Garforth to take the title, though Skelmersdale will most probably have to settle for second and so host Fylde in the semis.
Kevin Townson gave the Coasters the lead in the 36th minute but they conceded a disputed equaliser from Michael Powell, when Fylde felt keeper Lewis Edge had been coming for a corner.
Further goals from the league’s top scorer Michael Wilde and Robert Booth secured the win for the visitors in front of a season-high attendance of 1,316.
Chester could have taken the lead within two minutes. Booth made a good run into the Fylde penalty area and found Powell free but his shot went wide. Just two minutes later, however, Fylde’s Paul Jarvis saw his free-kick cleared for a corner.
On the quarter-hour mark, Chester had another opportunity through Booth, who beat full-back Mick Stringfellow but was denied by Edge’s save.
Jarvis again tried his luck from the edge of the box on 31 minutes after Townson held the ball up well.
Jarvis was having a great game and it was from his free-kick that Townson pounced on a rebound to score his first goal in 14 games.
After half-time, Chester substitute Chris Simm made an immediate impact on the left wing.
His side were pressing hard and after 62 minutes, having won their fifth consecutive corner, the breakthrough finally came as Powell headed in from close range, though Edge appeared to be held down.
Chester then dominated and went in front four minutes later.
Wilde claimed his 37th goal of the season when latching onto a cross from Ashley Williams to head home in front of his own fans.
Four minutes from time, the win was confirmed when Booth collected a rebound from Edge’s initial save to slot the ball into the net.
Fylde manage Kelham O’Hanlon was disappointed but said: “We’ve get to pick everybody up and get ready for, hopefully, two big games.”
The semi-final is set for next Monday at 3pm.
Fylde: Edge, Stringfellow, Elderton, Doughty, Steel, Mercer (C), Kay, Jarvis, Townson, Walwyn (Bell 56), Barnes (Kusaloka 82); Subs not used: Stevenson, Lawler, Hills.