AFC Fylde boss prepares for an emotional return to AFC Telford United

AFC Fylde’s visit to AFC Telford United tomorrow promises to be an emotional day for Coasters’ boss Jim Bentley.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 8:00 am

The Fylde manager not only returns to his former club but also that of his late father, Jack.

Bentley senior netted 431 goals in 835 appearances for Wellington Town and Telford United, 52 of which came in a single season during the early 1970s.

His memory lives on at the New Bucks Head with the bar named after him and one of the stands named as the Jack Bentley Terrace – the one in which the dugouts are situated.

AFC Fylde manager Jim Bentley Picture: Steve McLellan

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It means the Fylde boss will only have to turn around tomorrow to be given a reminder of his father – though he admitted family loyalty goes out of the window between 3pm and 5pm.

“One million per cent because I want to win the game and that’s what we’re there for,” said Bentley, who played 181 times for Telford between 1997 and 2002 before joining Morecambe.

“It’s going to be a proud moment to be in the dugouts in the stand with my dad’s name.

“I’ve been back to watch a couple of games and I played a charity match there about 14 or 15 years ago, but being on the bench and in charge of a team will be massive.

“I’ve got to go and see the supporters after the game and sign a shirt, which is going to take pride of place there, so I’m really looking forward to it.”

Nevertheless, there is a job to do tomorrow with Fylde looking for three points to keep them at the top of National League North.

They head the table on goal difference from Brackley Town after the two sides drew at Mill Farm last weekend.

In contrast, tomorrow’s hosts sit third-bottom of the table and are only off the foot thanks to goal difference.

However, their home form has been good this season with a pair of wins and draws from five matches, giving them eight of their nine points.

Consequently, Bentley is warning against reading too much into the league table.

He said: “Like all the teams in the division, they have got some capable players.

“Jason Oswell, who I know from when he played under me at Morecambe, has got a few goals and they’ve got one or two other players we need to watch out for.

“They haven’t had a great start and they won’t want to see themselves where they are in the division for too long.

“I think it’s got the makings of a good game and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Bentley’s years of fighting the odds as Morecambe manager also gives him an insight into the mindset tomorrow’s hosts will have.

His time with the Shrimps frequently saw them defying the odds and the formbook to get the better of teams at the other end of the table.

He said: “Telford will want to make a statement and beat one of the full-time clubs in the division, who are at the top of the table.

“I won’t underestimate the division or any team in it. Most of the teams are well coached, well drilled and fit with players taking pride in their personal fitness.

“We have to guard against all that but we know we’re a capable outfit. We’ve had a decent season so far and want to continue that upward momentum.”

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