Nelson’s brutally honest in praise of team spirit

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FYLDE coach Mark Nelson hailed his “men with a mission” as they stretched their lead at the top of National League Two North to 12 points with a sixth straight win.

But he insisted there was a long haul left before the job could be completed in what he described as a “brutal” league.

The bonus-point win over Loughborough pushed Saturday’s visitors down to third and Nelson said: “They were very stiff opposition and showed what they were capable of doing with ball in hand.

“We stuck to our game plan and to our principles and put in a performance that was right up with anything we have done this season – and we have had a lot of very good performances.

“The players have bought into what we want to achieve and they are revelling in it. All the players contributed. There is great interaction among the squad and the important thing is that this is a real tight group.”

“We are getting bumps and bruises and it is hard rugby, but the group has a purpose and a mission, and that is one of our great strengths.

“I have to give total credit to both sets of players. They played with ambition and there were seven tries in conditions that had a 12-9 scoreline written all over it, with all the points coming from penalties.”

Nelson said Fylde’s last three wins had all come on difficult pitches.

“We had terrible conditions at Kendal and a very bad pitch at Leicester, but we have stuck to the way we want to play. We have put teams under pressure and come away with the results we wanted.”

Nelson commended the whole squad, including those who didn’t get a game against Loughborough.

“We have a very strong front row, with Jonny Roddam sitting in the stands. So there is a lot of real strength but we have to keep everybody fit.

“It was very hard to choose between Tom Lavelle and Mark Stephenson for man of the match and I have awarded it to them jointly.

“But it was a team performance. Everyone is playing for each other and for the club.

“We perform as a squad and the replacements we didn’t use – Alistair Sutherland, Craig Aikman and Sam Russell – could have done a similar job equally well within the framework of our team.”

Nelson concluded: “There is no break time now – it is straight through until April 30. Nobody plays fully fit at this stage of the season in this brutal type of league.”

Loughborough had inquired about postponing Saturday’s game because they had players on England Under-20 duty but the National Clubs Association refused.