Few, if any managers have more experience of the contrasting, rollercoaster emotions of play-off football than AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor.
As a player and a manager, Challinor has been involved in such nerve-shredders no fewer than seven times in eight seasons.
Tomorrow he leads his side out at North Ferriby United as they bid for their biggest prize so far – a place in the fifth tier of English football.
The Coasters travel to the North East for a winner-takes-all encounter, with the much sought-after prize of promotion to the Vanarama National League.
This is the seventh play-off occasion for Challinor, first with Colwyn Bay and now with Fylde, and he has first-hand experience of the euphoria of victory as well as the dismay of defeat, both on the sidelines and on the pitch.
Challinor has been on the winning side three times in the play-offs – the only season in which he was not involved in the last eight years when his club won the title.
He admitted; “It is tough but it’s something that you have to deal with it.
“People say that it is the best way to gain promoted and they may be right, but there is no worse feeling than losing out.
“But it is something that you have to get on with and we will be doing all we can to make sure that we come out on the right side.”
The two clubs know each other well, and in the regulation season North Ferriby beat Fylde on both occasions.
The Humbersiders won 3-0 on their home patch and prevailed 3-2 at Kellamergh Park.
Those six points made a big difference as North Ferriby pipped Fylde to second place in the table and so ensured home advantage for tomorrow’s decider.
Challinor is making light of the fact that North Ferriby get to stage the showpiece at their Grange Lane home.
He said: “Final league positions don’t really come into it or necessarily home advantage.
“It was the teams who finished fourth and fifth who contested the play-off final last season, and it was the fifth-placed side and the away side (Guiseley, who knocked Fylde out ) who ended up winning and getting promoted.”
Nor is Challinor holding much store by the two league results against North Ferriby during this season.
He said: “We should really have won the match at our place, while for the away game we fielded a completely different side to the one that we will send out on Saturday. “We were without our two regular centre-halves then.”
Challinor is only too aware of the threat posed by North Ferriby, who play to their strengths, with towering striker Tom Denton pivotal to their approach.
The Coasters’ boss said: “North Ferriby are a very big, direct side, who work really hard.
“They have Denton up front at 6ft 7in, with runners coming off him and we have to cope with that.
“We will have a contrasting style to them, but what we will both have in common is hard work.”
Fylde expect to be very much at full strength for the trip to North Ferriby, though long-term casualties Dom Collins and Adam Sumner certainly won’t figure. The only injury doubt is Caspar Hughes, who was hurt in the semi-final against Harrogate.
Challinor said: “We thought at first Caspar might be struggling.
“He tweaked his hamstring in a tackle, rather than suffering a pull .
“We will see how he is in training but we are more hopeful than we were at first”