AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor ready for 'big turnaround' at top of National League this weekend

Dave Challinor is ready for a critical weekend in the National League title race
Dave Challinor is ready for a critical weekend in the National League title race
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AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor believes this could be a game-changing weekend in the quest for the National League title as four of the top five do battle.

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Table-toppers Wrexham travel to third-placed Leyton Orient, while fifth-placed Salford host second-placed Solihull Moors.

Challinor’s fourth-placed squad travel to the club that knocked them out of the play-offs last season as they head to Boreham Wood, who are side now in a battle at the wrong end of the pitch.

Fylde are six points behind Wrexham with a game in hand.

Leyton Orient and Solihull Moors are four points above Fylde, all with 11 to play, while Salford City pulled level with the Coasters in midweek but have played a game more.

Challinor says the table could look dramatically different tomorrow night but he doesn’t want Fylde’s minds to stray from the task in hand at Boreham Wood.

He told The Gazette: “We know this weekend is an important one for us.

“As much as we have to focus on us, and we know it is about us doing our job and picking up three points, it would be daft not to look at the fact that the four clubs in and around us play each other.

“There could be a big turnaround at the top and it could look a lot different after Saturday.

“We have to make sure we take care of our business with two massively important games before the Trophy semi-final kicks in against Stockport next Saturday.

“This weekend and Tuesday are huge (the current top four are again in action that night, when Fylde are at home to Hartlepool United). We are focused on that.”

The AFC Fylde boss is realistic about his side’s chances, given the number of sides fighting for promotion to the EFL, and he heeds the words of champions Manchester City’s boss as the season enters its business end.

Challinor said: “I suppose you look at the top level. Pep Guardiola has spoken about it and said that once you get into those last 10 games it is difficult to make up ground.

“We are realistic in that we know we have to put a really good run together.

“We are not just looking to overhaul one team; if we were, then it might be easier.

“I really think there are five or six other teams still in with an opportunity and I think someone is going to have to put a really good run together to grasp it.

“If everyone had played the same number of games we would have been four points off top. To turn that around we’d have to win maybe nine of those last 11 game and that is a big ask.

“This league has shown it can throw up funny results. From our perspective, you’d hope that even towards the back end of the season it can still throw up some funny results.

“If that is the case, then we just have to make sure we are in a position to take advantage of that.

“I’ve always said first and foremost that it is about getting into the play-offs.

“Then we know from our experience last year that finishing in those second or third positions going into the play-offs gives a huge advantage.

“If then there is still a potential opportunity to win the title, then you go for it.

“We just need to make sure we are in and around it.

“Fingers crossed that on Saturday and Tuesday results go in our favour and we keep picking the points up and see where that takes us. We cannot look too far ahead.”