Wrexham 0 AFC Fylde 0: Coasters clinch play-off spot

AFC Fylde clinched the final play-off place with this goalless draw and will visit Boreham Wood in the first round.

Saturday, 28th April 2018, 8:35 pm
Updated Sunday, 29th April 2018, 12:06 pm
Jake Lawlor sees a header cleared off the line at Wrexham Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

Thursday's tie will bring the Coasters' first National League campaign full circle - Boreham Wood were the first team Fylde faced at the elite level of non-league last August. The Hertfordshire club have taken four points from the teams' two meetings this season.Fylde's superior goal difference meant a point from their final game in North Wales was always likely to be enough, though they slipped a place to seventh as Boreham Wood's 3-1 win over Guiseley lifted them three places to fourth.Fylde finished the game with 10 men after Luke Burke's late dismissal but had more than enough chances to win at the Racecourse, where Dave Challinor made three changes: Simon Grand, James Hardy and Sam Finley stepped in for Jake Lawlor, Henry Jones and Jack Muldoon.Finley, back after illness, had the first sight on goal inside a minute but his dipping effort narrowly cleared the crossbar.The hosts needed a win to keep their slim play-off hopes alive and they had the ball in the net after just two minutes, though Scott Quigley's effort was ruled out due to a foul on Jordan Tunnicliffe in the build-up.The Coasters looked bright from the off and Wrexham old boy Jonny Smith bombed down the left before seeing his strike deflected around the post for a corner.Danny Rowe cut inside from the right as the visitors continued to dominate, though his tame strike was claimed by keeper Chris Dunn at the feet of the lurking Smith.Tunnicliffe had a let-off when he hauled down Scott Boden 30 yards from goal. The referee felt a yellow card sufficed and James Jennings' free-kick was saved by Jay Lynch. Smith was proving a constant menace to his former club and almost opened the scoring in spectacular fashion when he stole the ball from goalkeeper Dunn by the corner flag, though his angled shot was headed off the line by home captain Shaun Pearson.A nice combination between Rowe and Hardy culminated in the former looping a deep cross to the back post that was headed into the goalkeeper’s arms by Finley as the half drew to a close. Both sides looked a little subdued after the break, though Smith saw an effort from 12 yards claimed at the second attempt by Dunn.The half sprang to life when Jack Mackreth crashed a wicked strike against the foot of a Fylde post. Fylde should have made the breakthrough at the other end, when Rowe’s cross from the right was superbly touched on by Hardy to Lewis Montrose, whose first-time shot trickled wide of the far upright.The Coasters’ pressure was relentless and the hosts had Sam Wedgbury to thank shortly before the hour when he nodded Lawlor’s header off the line.Pearson glanced a tame header goalwards in retaliation as the tension began to build moving into the final 20 minutes.Dunn pulled off a fantastic fingertip save to deny Smith following a Challinor-style throw from Andy Bond.Rowe himself could have clinched the win which would have lifted Fylde to fourth place but he uncharacteristically sliced well wide from Smith's cross.Rowe then set Finley free but his left-footed strike lacked power and was comfortable for Dunn.The Coasters were forced to play out the final moments with 10 men after Burke was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge, but they held on knowing a point would keep them above Dover on goal difference.The winners at Boreham Wood will visit Sutton United in the semi-finals on Sunday, May 6.The other first-round tie is between Aldershot and Ebbsfleet on Wednesday, with all the play-offs broadcast live on BT Sport.Wrexham: Dunn, Jennings, Smith, Pearson, Wedgbury, Quigley (Mackreth 10 (Deverdics 78)), Rutherford, Kelly, Roberts, Boden, Wright. Subs not used: Dibble, Raven, Ainge.AFC Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Tunnicliffe (Lawlor 24), Grand, Francis-Angol, Bond, Montrose, Finley, Smith, Hardy (Muldoon 59), Rowe (J Taylor 88). Subs not used: Jones, BlinkhornAtt: 3,931 (503 Fylde)Ref: Alan Young

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