Arnold's sacrifice to reverse Fylde's fortunes
Player coach Paul Arnold has vowed to make changes in a determined bid to reverse Fylde's fortunes away from home '“ and that includes leaving himself out of the team.
Indeed, the experienced packman hinted he may restrict himself to touchline duties for several weeks, though his top priority is to end Fylde’s wretched run of away results at Old Albanians tomorrow.
Fylde have lost all five away fixtures in National One, conceding a minimum of 30 points in each and twice leaking more than 50.
But Jekyll and Hyde Fylde had offset their away form with a pleasing run of four straight home wins, until that was halted by last weekend’s 45-34 Woodlands setback against Rosslyn Park.
That means Fylde have slipped to 11th after back-to-back defeats, so Arnold is exploring every avenue to end their travel sickness in St Albans tomorrow.
Arnold told The Gazette: “We are going to change our approach in terms of our preparations on the bus.
“I believe we’ve been physically ready to go, but we haven’t been technically and mentally ready.
“We aren’t doing anything revolutionary, it’s just stimulating the players’ minds because the slow starts to matches have been killing us.”
“The long away journeys in this division are always a challenge. The London games aren’t so bad because we can travel by train, but a fortnight ago we had to set off for Cambridge at 7am (losing 36-0).
“To be honest, as long as I’ve been involved with this club we’ve always had a poor away record apart from last season, when we were arguably better away than at home, so we’ve got to try to get back to what was working for us on the road last season.”
And one of the changes Arnold will make is to leave himself out of the side seeking a win which may well lift Fylde above tomorrow’s hosts in the table.
Arnold was disappointed with his display against Rosslyn Park, particularly with his spell in the sinbin.
He said: “I think that I let myself and the team down last weekend.
“As a player-coach you can get too emotionally involved and focused on your own performance.
“Watching from the sidelines, you can focus better on the whole team and get a better overview.
“I think it’s important I take a few backward steps this weekend and maybe for a few weeks.
“We’ll see how it goes but let’s hope the other lads make the decision to leave myself out an easy one for me in the coming weeks.”
The decision to leave his boots at home has also been made easier by the return of several key players to his squad.
Arnold added: “The problems of player availability certainly haven’t helped this season. We had eight or nine unavailable every weekend.
“But we had Adam Lewis back last week, we have a few more for Albanians and hopefully Simon Griffiths next week, so we’re getting the opportunity to make changes.”
One of those changes tomorrow is to give a debut to flanker Matt Rogerson, one of several young players from Sale Sharks enjoying a spell at Fylde to help them learn the trade.
Rogerson is on loan from the Premiership club and Arnold explained: “Matt has trained with us for the last couple of weeks and he’s ready to take his chance.
“I’ve played alongside him for Lancashire and I know what a big, physical presence he is.
“We’ve trained well this week and we talked about our disappointment over the Rosslyn Park game. We know what we have to put right this weekend.”
Albanians also featured in a high-scoring encounter last weekend, winning 43-34 at Esher, though their last home match ended in a 32-0 defeat by leaders Hartbury College.
Fylde team: Dorrington, Armstrong, Briers, Wilkinson, Bingham, Smith, Nicholls; Pope, Burtonwood, Lewis, Turley, Gray, Rogerson, Vernon, Fairbrother; Replacements: Wild, Gregory, Lamprey, Hughes, Dowds .