AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor’s target for this debut National League season is to be competitive but he says there is no reason why they cannot challenge at the top of the tree this Christmas.
This time last week Challinor’s men held League One leaders Wigan to a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup, with a third-round date at Premier League Bournemouth awaiting the winners of Tuesday’s replay at the DW Stadum.
But before then Fylde’s focus is on the league and a visit to eighth-placed Boreham Wood tomorrow.
Fylde stand 16th but are only three points behind Tranmere in 11th, and with his side having three games in hand on most other clubs, Challinor sees no reason why they cannot challenge for back-to-back promotions.
Fylde have been beaten only once in nine games and Challinor said: “Our target for the start of the season was to be competitive and I think we have been so far.
“I think what has happened over the course of the last month is that the players will start believing they are more than a match for the teams in this division.
“That belief has come through in results, which it didn’t at the start of the season.
“We drew games we should have won and we conceded goals late on that were killing our confidence.
“The big positive is that nobody has run away with anything. It is a really tight league and if you put three or four wins together it can make a huge difference.
“All of a sudden, we are looking upwards rather than looking down.
“We are not daft – we want to get to 50 points as soon as we can and reassess where we are at because I suppose this season is a little bit about finding our feet, but we have done that now and have seen we are a match for most teams.
“Who will win this league? I have no idea. Do we have an opportunity? No reason why not.
“We will just keep working and once we get to 50 – hopefully sooner rather than later – we can go from there.”
Boreham Wood drew 2-2 at Mill Farm on the opening day and are unbeaten in the league since September, though Challinor is boosted by the availability of Jack Muldoon after suspension and of Luke Burke and Andy Mangan, who were both ineligible to face Wigan.
Those two must also miss the replay, which adds to an already hectic December fixture list, but Challinor says the jam-packed schedule is an opportunity to pile the points on.
He said: “We have a massive December and January when we look at the number of games.
“We’ve got seven games in December and a similar number in January. That is a quarter of a season in two months.
“It’s a huge opportunity to pick up lots and lots of points, and I’d suggest that come the end of January people will have more of an idea of who is where.
“So far there have been about seven different leaders and I’m sure that will continue for a little while yet.”