AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor has warned his players before tomorrow’s Evo-Stik Northern Premier League play-off final at home to Ashton United: “There’s still a massive job to do.”
It is one of the biggest matches in the history of the club with a prized place in Conference North at stake and one that is hard to call.
The two sides have met three times already.
Ashton beat the Coasters 1-0 in the third qualifying round of the FA Cup, the Coasters scored a 1-0 victory at home in the league, while the clash at Ashton in February resulted in a 1-1 draw.
All the indications make for a close encounter.
Challinor said: “A lot of people on the outside will say that we will go into tomorrow’s match as favourites and that it is some sort of foregone conclusion that we will win, but that is far from being the case.
“Favouritism goes right out of the window in matches like this. We go into the match full of confidence, but we know that we will have to be at our best against Ashton.
“It is a very difficult game for us, but at the same time it is going to be a very difficult for Ashton.”
The Coasters made it through to the decider on the same night that Ashton scored a dramatic win in the last knockings of extra-time to overcome FC United of Manchester.
AFC Fylde won 3-1 over Worksop with Richie Allen netting a hat-trick.
And while acknowledging Allen’s individual contribution to the full, Challinor said it was the attack and defence working in tandem that paved the way to victory.
Challinor said: “Richie will take all the plaudits for his hat-trick and rightly so, but looking at the bigger picture we had to withstand an aerial bombardment from Worksop.
“To their credit, Worksop played at an unbelievably high tempo and there were times that we needed 11 men behind the ball.”
Challinor reports that he has no serious injury concerns in the run-up to the make-or-break Ashton game.
He said: “We have a few niggles, but only niggles.
“Players will play through niggles when there is so much at stake as there is tomorrow and it is such a massive game.”
Harry Winter suffered a bang in the face in the win over Worksop, and he’s likely to have a prized shiner – not enough to make him absent.