A great escape for Aldershot Town might be unlikely, but AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor says anyone watching them play could think they were battling at the right end of the table.
The third-bottom Shots are 10 points from National League safety with six games left going into tomorrow’s televised lunchtime clash with Fylde.
The 12.35pm kick-off will be screened live on BT Sport as Aldershot bid to avoid a fourth straight defeat but Challinor is an admirer of their football.
But the Fylde boss’ focus is on consolidating fifth spot tomorrow as his side seek to cement a play-off spot and possibly two trips to Wembley in nine days in May.
Challinor said of his FA Trophy finalists: “The players have worked so hard to get to where they are now. Things will take care of themselves further down the line.
“The focus is Saturday against Aldershot and we need to be at it.
“In essence they are almost relegated. But if you turned up and watched them for a one-off game, you would think they were a top-five side.
“They are a good side and they are playing with the shackles off, with a freedom that says we are going to go and do our stuff and see where it takes us.
“That in itself brings a real challenge. We need to be really good on Saturday to win.”
On Tuesday Fylde lost 2-0 away to leaders Leyton Orient, their Wembley opponents in the Trophy, but they are still well-placed to clinch a play-off spot – five points clear of eighth-placed Ebbsfleet with games in hand.
Challinor believes the O’s will win the league but says his side now know what to expect from them in the capital on May 19.
He said: “I wish they were worse than they are! They are a good side and we expect them to win the league.
“They have good experience, good players and we always knew it was going to be a tough game.
“It is a cup final for us and one of the greatest days there is. We look forward to it.
“The players can see clips and analyse, but they have now seen Leyton Orient at first hand and know what they are about.
“We go there with no fear. On our day we know we are a match for anyone.
“It is a day that everyone can enjoy but we are going there to perform and to win.”
And with two games in hand on most of their promotion rivals, Challinor is now keen to manage the workload.
He said: “Results went our way and Leyton Orient’s while we were playing the semi-finals. We thought we might drop out of the play-offs and they thought they might not be top.
“The games in hand become important to us now and we are Saturday-Tuesday for the next two weeks, so we have to make sure we switch on in training and take things on board.
“We can’t overwork the players. We need to make sure we recover properly to give ourselves the best chance in every game we play.”