AFC Fylde make a case for the defence

Ryan Croasdale's displays have helped the Coasters' defensive record'                      Picture: Steve McLellan
Ryan Croasdale's displays have helped the Coasters' defensive record' Picture: Steve McLellan
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Dave Challinor insists AFC Fylde’s improving defensive record doesn’t mean they are becoming a more conservative team.

Fylde are a side that has built up a reputation of being an expansive unit that is capable of scoring a hatful of goals, but is also culpable of letting in a few at the other end of the pitch.

But the Coasters managed to keep two clean sheets in three days over the holiday weekend, taking their record to just three goals conceded in their opening seven games.

Challinor says that improvement has a lot to do with the work his team are doing off the pitch.

He said: “We have improved defensively which I think is down to the work we have done as a group.

“They are applying themselves and working their socks off.

“I don’t think it’s a whole lot to do with us setting up more defensively or anything.

“We’re still trying play the way we like to play and be expansive and get our full back forward.

“We’ve had a really good mentality both at the back and in attack. We’ve done a fantastic job dealing with set pieces, for example.”

After a strong start to the new National League campaign, Fylde find themselves in third place – two points behind league leaders Halifax Town.

The Coasters have yet to be beaten, a record that will come under test with two tough games on the horizon – a trip to Ebbsfleet United on Saturday before hosting promotion favourites Salford City the following Tuesday.

“It’s very pleasing,” Challinor said of Fylde’s unbeaten start to the season.

“Ultimately the less games you lose the more chance you’ve got of being up there near the top.

“It’s not easy at this level – or any level for that matter – to win games. We’re not losing which is obviously a good start.

“Draws are good if they keep your runs going, which they have been doing at the moment.

“Last week’s results set us up for a big week, with two really difficult, but really big games for us.

“Hopefully we’ll pick up some wins there and keep the run going.

“Ebbsfleet have got a really solid squad. You only need to look at their bench to see players who aren’t getting on to see that.

“They finished in the play-offs last season like ourselves but didn’t get promoted, but – like us – they will be looking to go one better this time.

“They’ve started well and I expect them to be up there again this season.

“Hopefully we can pick up a good total of points from the two games.”

Fylde head into this weekend’s game on the back of two 0-0 draws over the Bank Holiday week against Sutton United and Harrogate Town respectively.

Challinor added: “It’s difficult because if someone had offered me two clean sheets from the two games I probably would have been really happy with that. However I’d have wanted more than two points.

“But it was two tough games and they were plasing results in both really. They could have gone either way – we could have quite easily have won both games yet at the same time, we could have lost them both too.”