AFC Fylde boss expects a close title race ahead of Chorley's Boxing Day visit

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Jim Bentley is anticipating a keenly-fought encounter when his AFC Fylde team hosts Chorley on Boxing Day.

The Coasters return to action, having suffered back-to-back losses in their last two outings.

National League North defeat at Darlington FC a fortnight ago was followed by an FA Trophy exit against Solihull Moors last weekend.

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That ended Fylde’s unbeaten run at Mill Farm and it doesn’t get any easier with the first of two games in a week against Chorley.

AFC Fylde manager Jim Bentley Picture: Steve McLellanAFC Fylde manager Jim Bentley Picture: Steve McLellan
AFC Fylde manager Jim Bentley Picture: Steve McLellan
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They sit fifth in the table, three spots and six points adrift of Bentley’s players.

Magpies’ boss Jamie Vermiglio has described Fylde as probably the best footballing team and the side to beat in National League North.

In response, Bentley said: “At the minute, Brackley are the team to beat because they are top of the table.

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“We were the team to beat before that but it’s a solid league and it’s a competitive league.

“Gateshead have impressed me, Brackley have had a fantastic season and are very efficient in what they do, Curzon Ashton and Chorley are both up there and Kidderminster are a full-time outfit.

“We try and play the right way but we’re there to be shot at because we’re a full-time club and we were the favourites before the season started.

“However, at this moment in time, nobody’s running away with it because teams are taking points off each other.

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“It’s a close division and I really do think it will go all the way.”

From the Fylde perspective, the festive fixtures have been overshadowed by the club’s statement regarding Danny Philliskirk.

The midfielder had been missing recently for what Bentley had termed as ‘family reasons’.

With the player’s approval, the Coasters announced in midweek that his daughter is being treated for cancer in both the liver and lungs.

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Philliskirk is back in training with a view to being selected against Chorley – and Bentley would have no qualms about picking him.

He explained: “Fitness-wise, he looks alright and he’s trained well.

“He’s trained on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We’re in on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and I’d have no problem about throwing him straight back in.

“He’s experienced, he knows how to manage himself and it’s not like he’s been out injured, he’s been running when he can and he will be involved on Boxing Day.

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“We’re quite close to Philly. I know his dad and family, and he’s just a good, solid citizen.

“We’ve missed him on the field, we’ve missed him in training and around the place, but it’s just been an absolutely terrible time for him.

“Put football to one side, this puts everything in perspective and the most important thing is Danny’s daughter makes a full recovery.

“We will manage him with regards to timescale because of what he’s going through and where he needs to be in order to support his wife and family.”

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