Challinor: Now you’ll see the real AFC Fylde

Tom Hannigan back in action
Tom Hannigan back in action

AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor believes his team can now start to show their true colours after an injury-plagued first half of their campaign.

The Coasters, who are due to visit Skelmersdale United for an FA Trophy first round replay tonight, have lost 10 players to extended spells on the sidelines so far this season.

However, the return of Tom Hannigan and Richie Baker to the starting line-up last weekend proved a huge boost as Fylde returned to winning ways with a 1-0 derby victory over Chorley.

Challinor said: “I thought we fully deserved the win on Saturday and now we really need to put a run together.

“We know we are capable of doing that and it’s especially important around this time of year, when games are coming thick and fast.

“We need to keep the up pressure on the teams above us and make sure that no matter what happens we are up there come the end of the season.

“We had a couple of disappointing results leading up to the weekend, although we have almost discounted the Soilhull Moors defeat because conditions were farcical.

“We then had a poor 20 minutes against Curzon Ashton, which ultimately cost us in a game we were totally in control of.

“There is no one more critical than myself because it’s my team and I know we are good enough to go up.

“We always come back to the number of injuries we have had but that’s not an excuse. Any team missing that number of players would struggle to be at their best.

“We haven’t just been missing one or two – it’s been at least four or five out for almost every game. I wouldn’t expect to see the best of us until we have a fully fit squad.

“Tom (Hannigan) showed on Saturday how much we had missed him. He is an out-and-out defender and he reads the game fantastically well.

“ We knew that getting him and Josh Langley back together in defence was massively important for us and they were brilliant on Saturday.

“They were probably our most consistent players last season and we built a lot of our success on our defensive record.

“It is almost five months since they last played together, so we are delighted to have them both back. We just need to be careful with them now.

“Brad Barnes has missed games recently, so have Matty Hughes and James Hardy. That makes the fact we are still up there in the mix all the more satisfying for me.

“We are hopeful that all three are potentially back for the weekend (when Fylde visit Gainsborough Trinity), but tomorrow may come a little too soon for a couple of them.

“To have the squad getting close to full fitness is massive for us. To have options and selection headaches is what we want .

Challinor is hoping that it is fourth time lucky this evening against Evo-Stik League club Skelmersdale.

The replay in this twice-postponed tie follows a 4-4 draw at Kellamergh Park three weeks ago, when the Coasters squandered a three-goal lead.

Challinor added: “We want to win the game, simple as that. Winning games provides the momentum we crave.

“The lead we threw away in the first meeting could have had a real negative effect on our season. Whether it was coincidence or not, we lost the next two games. I know there can be a knock-on effect.

“Thankfully we have got out of that poor run now. We need to put a run together now and that starts tonight.”

DANIEL AGNEW