Play-off final heartache for AFC Fylde as they suffer Wembley defeat to Salford City
AFC Fylde’s hopes of reaching the Football League for the first time in their history were dashed with a 3-0 defeat by Salford City in the National League play-off final.
Emmanuel Dieseruvwe opened the scoring in the 15th minute for Salford, who were roared on by co-owners David Beckham, Phil Neville and Gary Neville at Wembley.
Carl Piergianni doubled Salford's lead after 53 minutes, heading home from a corner, before Ibou Touray sealed the win.
It means another season in non-league for Fylde, whose owner David Haythornwaite is targeting a spot in the Football League by 2022.
Fylde made a sharp start to the game as the ball flew across the face of goal early on, just too far ahead of Alex Reid.
At the other end, Gibraltar international Scott Wiseman drilled a 25-yard effort just wide.
Salford broke the deadlock in the 15th minute when Dieseruvwe made the most of a fortunate break in the penalty box.
Devonte Redmond's free-kick was kicked out by Danny Rowe, but the ball struck Luke Burke and dropped back goalwards, where Dieseruvwe slotted into the far corner.
Defender Burke was soon forced off with what looked like a hamstring problem he had picked up earlier, and former Salford man Nick Haughton came on.
Salford almost grabbed a second in the 24th minute when Nathan Pond's diving header from a corner was just wide.
The Coasters should have been level when Andy Bond was played into the right side of the penalty area by Haughton, but he clipped his angled shot over the crossbar.
Fylde pressed again before the break, with Salford keeper Chris Neal pushing away Ryan Croasdale's curling shot.
Jordan Tunnicliffe received treatment for a head injury, which saw six minutes of time added ahead of the interval.
Salford doubled their lead early in the second half. A quick short corner saw the ball swung into the six-yard box from the right, where defender Piergianni arrived to power a header into the top corner.
Any hopes of Fylde mounting a comeback were effectively ended on the hour as Salford enjoyed another slice of good fortune.
Full-back Touray charged down the left and clipped the ball back across the face of goal, where it dropped over the goalkeeper and in off the far post.
Fylde looked for a consolation late on, but James Hardy sent his effort into the side netting.
Dave Challinor's side, who were also beaten in the play-offs last season, finished the campaign in 5th place and came through eliminators against Harrogate Town and Solihull Moors.
Fylde are back at Wembley next week for the final of the FA Trophy, where they take on National League champions Leyton Orient.
Fylde: Lynch, Francis-Angol, Byrne, Tunnicliffe, Croasdale, Bond (Crawford), Philliskirk, Burke (Haughton), Bradley, Reid (Hardy), Rowe
Salford: Neal, Wiseman, Pond, Touray, Mafuta (Rodney), Piergianni, Hogan, Maynard, Redmond, Whitehead (Shelton), Dieseruvwe (Gaffney)
Referee: James Oldham