Jim Bentley admits his AFC Fylde side end 2019 in a “sticky situation” as they welcome Stockport County to Mill Farm for today’s final game of the year (3pm), though he believes their National League points tally should be far healthier.
Four games without a win, including three successive draws, have left the Coasters just a point clear of the bottom four, though Bentley sees plenty of reasons for positivity, having shared the spoils with top two Barrow and Yeovil over the past week.
Fylde’s league position is little better than the one Bentley inherited two months ago but he said: “Our record is two defeats in 12 since we’ve been here and we didn’t deserve to lose at Barnet, where we conceded in the 93rd minute from a set-play.
“And we should, in my opinion, have taken something at Solihull as well, with 65-70 per cent possession and 22 opportunities – double what the opposition had.
“Against Maidenhead, Dover, Sutton, Yeovil and again, at Barrow, we took a point but arguably should have got a lot more for what we’ve produced. We created opportunities in all those games and found ourselves on top.
“We are in a sticky situation in the league but the positive is that we’ve just gone up against the top two sides, given a fantastic account of ourselves, and could have won both games.
“The negative is that we haven’t taken our chances to win games.
“We should have a better tally but we are a tough team to play against and hard to beat. We just have to make sure that, when the chances come along, we put the ball in the back of the net on a more regular basis.”
Fylde equalised five minutes from time at Barrow, having played the final half-hour against 10 men, and Bentley added: “I believe we had the better chances and we looked quite threatening.
“But we switched off after the sending-off and let ourselves down for their goal.
“To get done when you are three against two at the back can’t happen and that killed us.
“It gave them something to cling on to with a 3,000-plus crowd behind them.
“They had only conceded 10 at home and are difficult to break down when they bank up against you.
“It was a good, composed finish by Ryan Croasdale. We camped in their half for the last five or 10 minutes and their keeper made some terrific saves. I’m a little disappointed we haven’t won and the lads gave their all.”
Bentley made changes in Cumbria with Nick Haughton and Kyle Jameson coming into the starting line-up – and he hinted at more for today’s second game in 48 hours.
The manager added: “Nick is more than capable on his day and he showed flashes of brilliance, but his calf was tightening up a bit and that’s why we took him off.
“Kyle covered a lot of ground and it was taxing to do so much running on a heavy pitch, so we have the squad in place for two games so close together. We decided to make changes at Barrow and we will probably make changes again for Stockport.
“Jordan Williams is back after suspension, while Lewis Montrose has been sick but is back in training now.
“What you need as a manager are options and we’ve got plenty of them, so we’ll do our homework on Stockport and see where we can beat them. But it’s a squad game all season with the amount of games we have.”