Hinchliffe is Coasters’ hero

AFC Fylde players after Ben Hinchliffe's winning penalty
AFC Fylde players after Ben Hinchliffe's winning penalty
Have your say

AFC Fylde 1 Ashton United 1 (Fylde won 4-3 on pens)

The Coasters won promotion to the Conference North, with keeper Ben Hinchliffe Fylde’s shootout hero against Ashton United.

Hinchliffe saved one spot-kick in the penalty showdown after a 1-1 draw in the NPL Premier Division play-off final.

And then he stepped up to smash home the winner himself to earn AFC Fylde a place in non-league’s second tier.

It all looked so different early on when the visitors grabbed a seventh-minute lead at Kellamergh Park. A mix-up between Hinchliffe and centre-back Josh Langley allowed Ashton’s top scorer Martin Pilkington the easiest of finishes into an empty net.

Ashton had seen off FC United in the semi-final and were not to be taken lightly.

Chris Baguley and Pilkington both went close to increasing the Tameside outfit’s lead.

The Coasters responded when Adam Sumner’s cross found Michael Barnes at the far post but he headed over the top.

Joe Booth and Matty Blinkhorn were also off target for Fylde before the break.

It took until the 70th minute for the hosts to level the scores, Blinkhorn the provider for Sean Cooke, who fired in left-footed.

A minute later, Fylde almost went ahead when Harry Winter’s header was jabbed off the line by keeper Paul Phillips.

The game edged towards extra time with few chances of note as the nerves set in.

And in extra time, Hinchliffe pulled off a great save to deny Ashton’s Matt Chadwick.

Cooke almost grabbed his second when he lobbed Phillips from 25 yards out, only for the ball bounce down off the underside of the bar and into the keeper’s hands.

And so it went to penalties. Adam Sumner missed Fylde’s first after Ashley Young had scored his for United.

But Pilkington’s spot-kick was saved by Hinchliffe and then Gary Gee hit the bar. Richie Allen, Danny Lloyd and Cooke brought Fylde level at 3-3, with keeper Hinchliffe netting the final decisive kick.