IN PICTURES: AFC Fylde hit new heights with promotion

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AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor is planning for a busy summer but he doesn’t believe the promoted club needs a major overhaul in readiness for the Football Conference.

Saturday’s nailbiting penalty shootout victory over Ashton United in the play-off final at Kellamergh Park has lifted the Coasters into the Conference North, the second tier of non-league football.

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United.  Brad Barnes lifts the trophy.

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United. Brad Barnes lifts the trophy.

Challinor doesn’t feel massive changes are needed as Fylde prepare to rub shoulders with the likes of Hyde United and Stockport County, one of Challinor’s former clubs in their Football League days.

The Fylde boss said: “I don’t know if it’s that big a step up. Hednesford and North Ferriby were promoted from the Evo-Stik League last season and both qualified for the play-offs this season (though both lost in the semi-finals), while Chester and Halifax both did well the previous year after going up from our division.

“I think the gap between the Conference North and the Conference Premier is huge, but the gap between the North and the Evo-Stik isn’t.

“That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of work to do ready to start life in a fresh division.

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United.  Danny Lloyd with a shot.

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United. Danny Lloyd with a shot.

“We have to decide which players we want to keep and who we want to bring in, and hopefully there will be some positive news with ground development over the summer.”

The 38-year-old Challinor doesn’t think there’s any need to revamp the club’s playing structure in terms of the number of training sessions or player contracts.

Chairman/owner David Haythornthwaite has a well documented ambition to see the club in the Conference National three years from now and the Football League by 2022, and Challinor added: “Obviously I’ll chat with David, and now we’ve got out of the Evo-Stik we can start looking further ahead. We’re not in a position yet where we need to think about going full-time, but these are exciting times.

“Promotion does help in terms of the calibre of players you can attract and it opens up options in the loan market.”

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United.  Richie Allen and Joe Booth.

AFC Fylde win promotion after playing Ashton United. Richie Allen and Joe Booth.

“Being in the Conference opens so many doors in terms of grants. It gives the club a massive boost commercially.ing the club.”

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