TAMWORTH 3 AFC FYLDE 1
Kaid Mohamed’s first-half strike was cancelled out by a Danny Rowe penalty only for two goals in as many minutes to seal Fylde’s fate.
Coasters boss Dave Challinor made just one change to the side that beat Bradford Park Avenue last Monday, with midfielder Brad Barnes returning to the starting line-up in place of Sam Finley.
The hosts gave Fylde an early scare when Ross Dyer raced down the left and delivered an inviting ball across goal that keeper Ben Hinchliffe claimed at the second attempt after a nervy scramble.
Fylde’s first chance came after five minutes, when Bohan Dixon galloped through the Tamworth defence before seeing his strike thwarted by the legs of goalkeeper James Belshaw at the near post.
The Coasters were forced into an early change when defender Josh Langley limped off after just 12 minutes to be replaced by Dom Collins.
Set-pieces weren’t proving the visitors’ strong point in the early stages as Danny Lloyd skewed a free-kick horribly wide and a corner straight out of play.
Tamworth took the lead after 22 minutes and it was too easy for the hosts – Mohamed cut in from the right and fired left-footed past Hinchliffe from 12 yards.
Striker Danny Newton almost broke through for the home side when he bundled his way past Tom Hannigan but Hinchliffe was quick to react and smothered the loose ball. Tomassen’s flicked header almost caused problems in the Fylde box but eventually drifted harmlessly out of play.
Fylde nearly found a way back in to the game when the ball broke kindly for Caspar Hughes eight yards out but he was both offside and off-target.
Richie Baker was next to try his luck five minutes before the break, when he latched on to Rowe knockdown. However, his improvised effort with the outside of his boot was well wide.
Tamworth should have doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time, when Ellis Deeney made a fool of Hughes and Dixon on the left before squaring for Mohamed, who fired straight at Hinchliffe from close-range.
The hosts started the second half the way they finished the first as Mohamed forced Hinchliffe into a decent save before Deeney scuffed the follow-up wide of the far post.
The opening stages of the second period provided very little in the way of opportunities, with neither keeper really tested.
Fylde looked solid enough at the back but lacked that cutting edge to find a leveller.
However, the visitors were presented with a glorious opportunity to do just that on 69 minutes, when Lee Smith tripped Lloyd in the area and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.
Up stepped top scorer Rowe, who duly dispatched the penalty to bring the scores level, his 33rd goal of the season and first since the Easter Monday win at Stockport.
Less than six minutes later and Tamworth were back ahead. The dangerous Danny Newton raced clear of the Fylde defence and smashed a shot across goal that nestled into the bottom corner.
Moments later, Mohamed would have had his second but for a top save from Hinchliffe.
The home side really started to take control and a minute later ad a third, Connor Taylor tapping home unmarked from Curtis Strong’s right- wing cross.
Substitute Matty Hughes attempted to breathe some life into the contest when he found space on the edge of the area and hit a rasping strike that was tipped over by Belshaw.
Fylde were forced to finish the game with 10 men as substitute Collins limped off to add to Challinor’s defensive woes.
Newton really should have put the game to bed in added time, when Hannigan misjudged his header, but again Hinchliffe was on hand to turn the shot over the bar.
With two games to play, the Coasters can finish no lower than fifth but have lost second spot to North Ferriby, whose 2-0 home win over Telford lifts them two points above Fylde with a game in hand.
Whoever finishes second would be at home in the play-off final, provided they first overcome the fifth-placed side in a two-legged semi.
Fylde boss Challinor bemoaned as poor a performance as he has seen in a long while from his AFC Fylde side.
Defeat by Andy Morrell’s Tamworth saw Fylde slip to third with two games to play and manager Challinor said: “We didn’t turn up, it’s as simple as that.
“That’s as poor as we have been for a long time, if I’m honest.
It was disappointing and worrying that maybe some of them think they are safe in the play-offs and don’t need to make an effort.
“I won’t allow people to switch off and I won’t accept performances like that. We can’t just turn it on and off. It’s just not good enough.
“I have plenty of lads coming up to me and asking why they aren’t in the team.
“I am the first to back the players when they have lost a game and have not deserved to, but I won’t support a performance like that.
We managed to get ourselves back into the game with Rowey’s penalty and made changes to go and win it, but we didn’t compete well enough.
“At this level, if you play like that you lose.
“Rowey goal was probably the only positive. We have come out of the game with no points and a couple of injuries, so we had to play the final minutes with 10 men.
“Overall it was not a great day and one to forget, but we still have two league games to play, so we will keep working hard this week to rectify it.”
AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, C. Hughes, Hannigan, Langley (Collins 12), Crainey (M Hughes 74), Barnes, Baker, Dixon (Blinkhorn 74), Charles, Lloyd, Rowe.
Tamworth: Belshaw, Burns, Dyer, Deeney, Tomassen, Carter, Mohamed (Davies 89), Smith, Newton, Taylor, Strong.