No home or form advantage in play-offs says Fylde boss Challinor

Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor

AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor believes Saturday’s victory over promotion rivals Harrogate Town will be irrelevant if the teams meet again in the National North play-offs.

The Yorkshire club are one of three possible opponents for the Coasters in the two-legged semi-finals, which take place next Wednesday and the following Saturday.

Fylde are sure to finish second or third in the table, meaning their second leg will be at Kellamergh Park.

North Ferriby United reclaimed second spot from them last night when a 3-0 win at Lowestoft moved the Humberside club two points ahead.

The final placings will be determined on Saturday, when Fylde visit Worcester City and North Ferriby entertain Alfreton.

If the semis do bring a rematch with Harrogate, Challinor insists his side would have no psychological edge.

He said: “I don’t think the result at the weekend would give us an advantage. I think they potentially left four players out, whether that was through injury or something else I don’t know.

“If we played them in a semi, I’d expect Daniel, Turner, Ellis and Thirwell to play.

“Likewise, we’ve got injuries ourselves. We’ll hopefully have a few players to bring back for the play-offs, though. “That would make both teams a whole lot stronger, with more experience.

“I don’t think there’s a big advantage where you finish really. At the end of those two play-off games, you hope the team that has played the best will win and it’s not decided by a refereeing decision or some luck. That’s all you can ask.

“We know what they entail as we’ve been through every emotion in play-offs. As a player and manager I think I’ve been involved in the play-offs in seven of the last eight years.

“They’re a great way to get promoted, but if you don’t win there’s no worse way to end your season. We’ve got to make sure we’re the team that has that thrill at the end.”

Challinor would love to go into the play-offs on the back of two wins but admits good form may not count for much.

He recalled: “Last year it didn’t make much difference. We were two and a half months unbeaten heading into the play-offs and 15 points clear of Guiseley, who ultimately beat us.

“They are unique games. They are individual games, even though they are two legs. There isn’t really an advantage home or away at this level. It’s not like we’re going to the Bernabeu to face 100,000 screaming fans.

“There will be teams coming here that don’t have any fears. Hopefully the one fear is that our team is a strong one. We’ll embrace what happens and try to win both games.”

The Coasters had Sam Finley, Josh Langley, Adam Sumner and Dom Collins missing last weekend and Challinor is hoping the quartet will be available next week.

“I hope so but we’re not going to risk anyone,” he said. “Adam has been out for a few weeks and we are unsure about Dom. He pulled out of training last week and whether he’s done any more damage I’m not too sure.

“We have fingers crossed for Josh and Sam because they’re an important part of our squad, and going into the play-offs with a full team to pick from is very important.”

The other two teams Fylde could meet in the semis are Boston and Nuneaton, though the latter’s play-off hopes will be dashed if they lose at Bradford Park Avenue tonight.

DANIEL AGNEW