Fylde boss Dave Challinor could change winning team for trip to title-chasing Salford City

AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor has not ruled out changing a winning side for this afternoon's visit to second-placed Salford City.

Sunday, 21st April 2019, 10:59 am
Updated Sunday, 21st April 2019, 11:39 am
Fylde celebrate Danny Rowe's winner against Barnet Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

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AFC Fylde 1 Barnet 0: Another Danny Rowe cracker makes certain of play-off spot

The penultimate day of the regular National League season is an intriguing one in the promotion race as four of the top five face each other.

Salford have won their last five games but are under greater pressure than Fylde today, knowing that anything less than a win could end their hopes of pipping Leyton Orient to the title and automatic promotion.

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Fylde must settle for the play-offs but sealed their spot with Friday's 1-0 home win over 10-man Barnet and Challinor's men can fall no lower than their current position of fifth.

They still have an outside chance of claiming third place and automatic passage to a home semi-final. That can only happen if Fylde win both remaining games and Solihull Moors lose theirs, though Solihull do host Orient today.

Challinor recalled Luke Burke, Andy Bond and Tom Crawford to face Barnet and could shuffle his pack again at Moor Lane this afternoon.

The Fylde boss explained: "We knew Barnet were good in possession. But even with three out-and-out midfielders in there (Bond, Crawford and Ryan Croasdale), we struggled early on to get close to them because they are good at what they do and you have to communicate well.

"Salford will be a very different challenge. It will be a physical game and we will pick the team we think is best to get a result there. Maybe we will have to change shape and personnel but we know what threats we will have to deal with.

"We will have to head the ball and deal with set-pieces and balls into our box, so we have to have personnel who are willing to do that."

Challinor was pleased to return to winning ways after the defeat at relegated Braintree. Victory over Barnet was sealed by Danny Rowe's 27th league goal of the season and aided by a straight red card for Bees defender Dan Sweeney for a high challenge on Nick Haughton before half-time.

The Coasters boss was relieved Haughton was not injured in the incident and said: "I don't think it was maliciously bad but it's high up on the shinpad. If he'd gone in lower it would have been a yellow all day but my initial thought was that it was a bad one."

Of the performance, Challinor added: "At first I thought we were a sloppy in possession but after 10 minutes we grew into the game. We scored a great goal, which allowed us to sit in and play on the counter.

"In the second half it was a case of being safe in possession and we did that. I wouldn't say they put us under a serious amount of pressure at any point and we saw it out pretty comfortably.

"I'd have loved to push on with more goals but it's always difficult against 10 men because they bank in and drop back. We controlled it well and at this stage of the season the three points are massive for us."

Besides Fylde, the only club sure to be involved in the six-team play-off competition is fourth-placed Wrexham.

The top three are still competing for the one automatic promotion place, while the final two play-off spots could go to any of five clubs below Fylde.

The final standings will be resolved in Saturday's round of lunchtime fixtures, when Fylde welcome FC Halifax Town to Mill Farm.