AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor knows his side are there to be shot at as they head the Vanarama National North standings – but is backing them to thrive and kick on.
The Coasters face what is on paper their sternest test to date when they travel to Aggborough to take on fourth-placed Kidderminster Harriers, who are unbeaten in five matches, including an FA Cup win over Lancaster City last Saturday.
The Coasters boss said: “We have seen Kidderminster a few times and we expect them to be challenging for promotion come the end of the season.
“Their ground is of Football League standard and they play a similar kind of football to the type we like to play, so it is a question of who will be most effective on the day.”
Challinor says that being on top of the pile does not bring any added pressure.
The Coasters are the only side in the league who are yet to be beaten, much to the manager’s satisfaction.
He added: “There is a third of the season gone and we are in a position where we want to be. We would not want to change anything.
“What we want to do now is continue to thrive and do all we can to try to extend our lead at the top of the table.
“We are there to be shot at, but it is up to us to extend the lead that we have over the chasing pack.”
Challinor’s opposite number, Harriers’ boss John Eustace, is also relishing tomorrow’s test for his largely young squad, who have made their mark this season.
He said: “It’s going to be a tough game for us and they have a very experienced squad. But we will approach it just the same as we normally do.
“It gives the players a chance to show what they can do against a side in good form.”
As Fylde prepare to return to action after an 11-day break, Challinor reports no fresh injury problems, apart from “a few niggles” that he is monitoring with the medical staff after training.
And the two long-term injury casualties, goalkeeper Rhys Taylor and winger Brendon Daniels, are poised for a return to the fray after their respective injuries
Taylor is keen to win back his place in Dave Challinor’s first team for the trip to Kidderminster.
The former Chelsea stopper joined the Coasters in the summer but limped out of his fourth game for the club.
Fellow summer signing Tony Thompson has impressed during his spell between the posts and Taylor is relishing the competition.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to being back involved. It’s been a long two months out, but from what the scan originally said it could have been a lot worse. I’m ahead of schedule and ready to go.
“You know it’s quite serious when you go down and there’s no-one around you, not much contact. It was tough to take so early in the season but I’d rather get it out the way and be fit for the rest of the campaign.
“Tony has done well and playing in a good team helps. Hopefully we can tighten up at the back and keep a few more clean sheets.
“I’ve come down from three levels higher, so I think I’d expect to go straight back in, but Tony’s done well and full credit to him.”
Taylor admits sitting on the sidelines has been difficult, saying: “I’ve not missed a game for three years and then all of a sudden you’re out for two months.
“ It’s all to do with luck. When it’s due to happen, it’s due to happen. There’s nothing you can do apart from work hard and get fit again.
“I’ve been looking forward to getting back in and I’ve been in full training for the last two weeks.
“I didn’t get a full pre-season because I joined quite late, so it’s been quite good for me to get a couple of weeks of hard work in. I’m fully fit.
“The lads have done really well and to be unbeaten is some achievement. There aren’t many teams in the whole of England that are unbeaten. Hopefully we can keep that going but the main aim is promotion.”
“The squad is strong and I think that has been proven by the results when we’ve been missing a few players.”