AFC Fylde will be plying their trade in the Conference North next season after just managing to edge out Ashton United on penalties in Saturday`s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division play-off final at Kellamergh Park, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.
The Coasters, who started the game as very strong favourites according to the bookmakers, were locked at 1-1 after extra-time before finally triumphing 4-3 on penalties – a cruel way to lose any game for the Robins.
It was the visiting Ashton side, who finished fifth in the regular season, who took an early seventh minute lead in front of a crowd of 1,191 when a long ball forward fell to Martin Pilkington, who slotted home.
The second half saw Matthew Blinkhorn head over for Fylde, who did the same again shortly afterwards as the home side turned up the pressure. And that pressure was finally rewarded with 20 minutes to go when Sean Cooke managed to grab the equaliser.
Fylde were now well on top now and were pushing for a second, with Blinkhorn having yet another header go wide of the target.
The Coasters then hit the bar and had a shot cleared off the line but Ashton survived extra-time to take the tie to spot-kicks. In the end it was Fylde keeper Hinchcliffe who proved to be the hero – the stopper scoring the winning penalty to take his side up.