Coasters taking title fight to the wire

AFC Fylde assistant manager Colin Woodthorpe.
AFC Fylde assistant manager Colin Woodthorpe.
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AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor and assistant manager Colin Woodthorpe could be toasting promotion from the Conference North on Saturday evening.

When Challinor and Woodthorpe took the reins in 2011, the Coasters were 16 points adrift of the NPL First Division North top spot.

Four years and two promotions later, Fylde are on the cusp of unprecedented success and a whisker away from a coveted place in the Conference – just one tier away from the Football League.

But the dynamic duo still have two obstacles to overcome if they are to host the biggest promotion party yet at Kellamergh Park.

Barrow have one hand on the trophy with a two-point lead.

The Coasters need Lowestoft Town to de-rail the Cumbrians’ title charge by causing an upset, and win their own match against Gloucester City to sneak in and nab pole position.

But Woodthorpe is not taking anything for granted as City will be eager to become party poopers in the event of Barrow slipping up.

Woodthorpe said: “Gloucester are the in-form side in the division at the moment. I wouldn’t expect anything less from them than a tough test.

“The last thing they will be doing is rolling over and letting us win.

“If we were in their position we’d probably be doing the same. What better way to end the season on a high than to stop someone’s title charge.

“We just need to do what we need to do – win the game.”

Fylde have scored an impressive 87 goals so far and their status as leading scorers could be their saviour. If Barrow draw and Fylde win, they will clinch top spot due to that superior goal tally.

Woodthorpe says it proves their pedigree and praised the players. He said: “Everyone has played their part we have scored the most goals in the division. That tells you how well the team have played this season. It is thanks to every single one of them that we are in this position.”

But IF Fylde fail to topple Barrow all is not lost, as they will enter the play-offs.

Woodthorpe said: “For a while we have expected to be in the play-offs because of the way the league has been. We hope to win the league but it is not in our hands. The play-offs are a lottery.”