AFC Fylde 3, Worksop Town 1
Richie Allen was AFC Fylde’s hero as he bagged all three goals to secure a place in Saturday’s play-off final.
The visitors took the lead after 17 minutes when Connor Higginson struck from just inside the box but Allen equalised within two minutes.
He then added the vital second goal after 65 minutes and sealed the win with his third deep into injury time from the penalty spot.
Fylde boss Dave Challinor was delighted his side came through to win but was quick to praise the opposition for putting up a great match.
He said: “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 real 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.”
Worksop came out of the blocks flying and with 17 minutes on the clock struck a well-worked goal. Alex 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, 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 put the game level.
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.
Hinchliffe had to tip Adam Quinn’s close range header round the post before Tom Denton headed against the base of the post.
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.
Fylde had a big shout for a penalty waved away with ten minutes remaining when Matty 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. Jon 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.
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. Kick-off on Saturday will be 3pm.