AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor believes the pressure is off his side in today’s FA Trophy tie at Gateshead.
Fylde have already seen off Warrington Town, Skelmersdale United and Eastbourne Borough to reach the last-16 stage, and Challinor sees the match against the National League club as a “freebie”.
The Coasters boss explained: “There is very little expectation on us this weekend outside of our own dressing room. You could say it’s a bit of a freebie for us, a bonus.
“We go into the game to enjoy it but at the same time we are still going there to win. We know we are well capable of competing with Gateshead, so we will just let them worry about us.
“We have done our homework on what they are about and how they play. Every game we play against higher opposition gives us the opportunity to show what we can do as they are where we aspire to be next season.
“At the beginning of the campaign, this competition wasn’t our biggest priority, similar to the FA Cup. Of course we wanted to enjoy good runs in both but not at the expense of our league ambitions.
“If we get through this round into the last eight, then people may well start looking a bit further ahead. We would be just one game from a two-legged semi-final and the winner of that finds themselves at Wembley. However, at the moment it’s just another game for us to do our best in.”
The competition may also provide a welcome break from league action following Tuesday’s disappointing 3-2 defeat at Chorley.
Fylde shot out of the traps into a two-goal lead, but were subject to a Magpies onslaught in awful conditions.
“There’s no denying the pitch made it difficult,” added Challinor. “But they played the conditions better than we did.
“We created a lot of chances in the first half but you have to put them away. We defended too deep in the second half and just didn’t cope well enough.
“We just have to learn from it and try to improve.
“We need to get better at playing on difficult pitches.
Challinor was relieved that his players came through the midweek match relatively unscathed, though he admits there will be a reshuffle due to defender Josh Langley starting his three-match ban.
“Josh has missed quite a bit of the season already with a broken foot, so it’s a blow that he will now miss the next three games. This now brings opportunities for other players.”