AFC Fylde manager's challenge for Saturday's two-goal star

Jim Bentley has challenged AFC Fylde skipper Alex Whitmore to increase his goal tally after getting off the mark for the season last weekend.

Wednesday, 15th September 2021, 8:00 am

The centre-half netted both goals in the Coasters’ 2-0 win at Bradford (Park Avenue), extending their unbeaten start to the National League North season.

Bentley knows all about the value of having a goalscoring defender, having netted 34 times in 300-plus games for Morecambe.

Just as pleasing was the manner in which both goals came via Nick Haughton set pieces.

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Alex Whitmore scored twice for AFC Fylde at the weekend Picture: Steve McLellan

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Bentley said: “Set plays are very important and I think we’ve been exceptional in the early season.

“That’s why you work on them but I’m really pleased for Whits, I know he beats himself up.

“Last season, I think he hit the post, he hit the bar quite a few times and keepers were pulling off saves but he should be getting more.

“For him to step up as the captain when it wasn’t going our way and you’re thinking ‘They’re going to strangle us, we’re not finding a way, we have all the possession, they’re going to frustrate us, they’re going to bank up against us’, we found a way of winning and that was through two set plays – great delivery, great headers, good movement, carrying out what’s expected of them.

“As I say, we deserved to win so I’m really pleased. I’m really pleased for Whits, Dan Pike’s come in, Owen Robinson’s made his debut, so there’s loads of positives.”

While Bentley was pleased to see more goals from set pieces, he also paid tribute to keeper Chris Neal.

His clean sheet was highlighted by a fine save from Luke Rawson, not long after Whitmore had scored his second goal.

“When called upon, Chris Neal has made an absolutely outstanding save,” Bentley said.

“To be fair, I don’t think he’s really used his hands all day but when called upon, that was a fantastic save.”

Elsewhere, the club has also confirmed a loan move for midfielder Harvey Gregson.

The 19-year-old has joined Northern Premier League Premier Division side Bamber Bridge for an initial month.

He made his debut for Jamie Milligan’s side in Saturday’s 4-2 victory at Scarborough Athletic.

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