AFC Fylde and Salford City set to battle for spot in the Football League


A place in Sky Bet League Two is at stake for the winner of Saturday’s National League play-off final between AFC Fylde and Salford City.

Seven years after beating Salford City 1-0 to clinch the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Division One title, Dave Challinor’s side will hope to achieve similar success – albeit with a place in England’s fourth-tier on offer.

Fylde’s gradual progression through the Non League pyramid has proven exactly how football should be played. Managed by the same man who beat the Ammies back in 2012, the victory sealed one of the club’s five promotions in eleven seasons.

The Coasters have avoided throwing thousands of pounds at the playing budget in order to purchase success, but have instead reignited the careers of young, talented players such as Danny Rowe.

The 29-year-old moved to the Coasters in August 2014 and has stuck with the Lancashire-based outfit for a fifth season. The locally-born striker has scored twenty-seven goals this season. Rowe has not managed to reach the same goal-scoring exploits as last term’s tally of 47 in all competitions; however, the Coasters went two steps further in the play-offs after exiting at the Eliminator stage last season by beating Solihull Moors.

Fylde will make the trip to Wembley knowing that a win will see them enter the Football League for the first time in their history, and achieve the goal of reaching Sky Bet League Two by 2022.

Similarly, the Class of 92’s Salford City are desperate to make their first ever venture into England’s fourth-tier.

The Ammies’ semi-final tie with Eastleigh at the Peninsula went all the way to penalties last weekend. Carl Piergianni gave the hosts the lead late in the first-half before Paul McCallum levelled the tie after the interval.

Adam Rooney’s missed penalty may have concerned the Ammies, but his team-mates converted the next four spot-kicks to send them within ninety minutes of entering the Football League.

From the dug-outs

AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor said to BBC Lancashire that these are the type of games his players should aim to be playing in.

“It’s very exciting,” he said. “I’m not too nervous at the minute, I think the closer the game gets you’ll always get some butterflies.

You have to embrace the fact it’s a big game. Whether it be an FA Cup tie against a Premier League or Football League club, or FA Trophy semi-final, they’re not other games, they’re big games – but they should be the games that you want to play in.

The should be the games that you should want to play football. It should be a motivation to play in as many big games as possible, in front of big crowds and at big stadiums. It doesn’t get any bigger than Saturday.”

Salford City boss Graham Alexander said that he was pleased to reach the play-off final in his first season in charge of the Ammies.

“I’m really pleased for everybody,” he said. “Wembley is such a special venue for any football club at any level, so we’re delighted to have the opportunity to take Salford there.

We have to focus on winning the game of football to make it better for everyone.”

“Both games [against Fylde]were evenly fought,” Alexander added. “We were won one game each, both away from home. Both games were at different stages of the season, one was early and one was late. Both teams have won a lot of games to finish where we did. I think there’s nothing to split between us.”


About Author

When not busy covering local news for EssexLive, Matt Lee can be found in the press box at Portman Road covering Ipswich Town's return to the Championship and push for the Premier League.

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