Dave Challinor’s AFC Fylde side have been thrown in at the deep end, and face likely promotion rivals FC United of Manchester in their second match of the season tonight.
Challinor’s men made the perfect start ahead of the testing trip to Gigg Lane (7.45pm), winning Saturday’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier opener at home to Stafford Rangers 2-1 courtesy of Danny Lloyd’s debut strike.
United, last season’s beaten play-off finalists, lost their opener at Worksop and Challinor is ready for a tricky encounter.
“It’s going to be another tough game for us,” Challinor said. “We’re looking to get a positive result but it’s not going to be easy. We know a lot about them and will look at the report from their first game.”
Even so, he dismisses as nonsense any notion of this being a potential promotion decider four days into the season. “It’s a big game, although people will make more of it than is really the case.
“ It’s important we just concentrate on getting the three points,” the manager said.
“Will it have a big bearing on what happens this season? I don’t think so. I believe both sides will be up towards the top after 46 games.”
Fylde are the bookies’ favourites for promotion, having finished fifth last time around. Challinor is well aware of that but insists his team aren’t worried about any additional pressure.
He told The Gazette: “The expectation is there, everybody knows that and everybody wants to beat us. We’re obviously one of the favourites but we’ve been in the same situation before.
“It’s something myself and the players have to deal with, and we are capable of handling it. It’s one of the reasons I came to this club – because of the ambition they showed.”
Challinor was happy enough with the opening display, even though it took a late strike to settle it.
“Grinding out the result was the main thing,” he added.”It was important for us to get off to a good start because we didn’t start too well last season. We played well in the first half and were unfortunate not to go in front.
“I thought we had goal threats all over the pitch and it’s great for Danny to get off the mark.”
Challinor hopes to field a full-strength side tonight but may again be frustrated in his bid to select Jack Dorney.
The start to Dorney’s second season at Kellamergh Park has been delayed by red tape – he is still awaiting international clearance after playing for Moreland City in Australia over the summer.
Challinor said: “The whole situation with Jack is up in the air. It’s dissapointing because we’ve done everything necessary and he would probably have been in the starting 11 on Saturday.
“It’s ridiculous. The lad has been back in the country a month, was our player last season, has done the whole of pre-season and yet can’t play in the opening game due to paperwork taking over four weeks to be okayed by two football associations. Jack’s clearance to play in Australia went through in days.”