Big freeze means a big squeeze for AFC Fylde

David Haythornthwaite
David Haythornthwaite
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AFC Fylde have appealed to the Evo-Stik League to extend the season by a week to prevent an unbearable fixture squeeze stalling their brave promotion chase.

The Coasters already faced a hectic schedule of 12 matches in the final five weeks of the Northern Premier season before Saturday’s top-of-the-table home clash with Hednesford fell victim to the snow.

With midweek matches already scheduled for every week until the scheduled final day of April 27, and a run of four games in eight days starting with Saturday’s visit to Stocksbridge Park Steels, Fylde now face an unenviable task to shoehorn in the Hednesford clash.

Dave Challinor’s side have climbed right back into play-off contention after winning nine of their last 10 games, and chairman Dave Haythornthwaite will fight to prevent an unmanagable workload from wrecking their bid for back-to-back promotions and a place in the second tier of the Conference.

Haythornthwaite said: “In view of today’s cancellation and possibly a further one this Tuesday, we have decided to formally petition the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League to extend the season by one week.

“We understand that this proposal was made by League Operations Manager, Alan Allcock, some weeks ago but at that time it was turned down by the board.

“However, things have moved on and a number of clubs, such as us, now find ourselves in a very difficult situation. For us it was all brought about in the main, unfortunately, by our successful cup runs in both the FA Cup and FA Trophy.

“Whilst we appreciate there are difficulties and it may not be in the interest of many clubs, especially those who have fulfilled their fixtures already, we believe and hope that pragmatism and fairness will prevail.”

Allcock himself stated on the league’s website: “The League fixture programme was looking good for most clubs but the severe weather has created some major problems in how to squeeze in games over the remaining weeks of the season.”

Fylde have also entered into discussions with tomorrow’s opponents Matlock Town about a fixture switch to boost the chances of the game going ahead.

The sides are yet to meet this season, with Fylde scheduled to visit Derbyshire tomorrow before the return match in Warton on Saturday week.

Fylde have suggested swapping the venues as Fylde’s Kellamergh Park is more likely to be playable tomorrow, the Matlock area having been buried under snow in recent days.

Fylde remain only two points outside the top five, but with games in hand on all the clubs above them, after fifth-placed FC United were beaten 2-1 by Blyth Spartans in the only match in the division to beat the freeze on Saturday.

- AFC Blackpool face a fixture squeeze to match Fylde’s after their League Cup quarter-final against Maine Road was a victim of the weather, which virtually wiped out the entire North West Counties League programme.

Squires Gate’s relegation crunch game at St Helens Town was also postponed.

Blackpool could do Gate a favour tomorrow if they can win away to another of the premier division’s struggling sides, Ashton Athletic.