AFC Fylde owner David Haythornwaite hoping to avenge painful play-off final defeat with FA Trophy success

AFC Fylde owner David Haythornwaite
AFC Fylde owner David Haythornwaite
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AFC Fylde owner David Haythornwaite is hoping Sunday’s FA Trophy showdown will end on a better note than last week’s “awful” play-off final defeat.

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The club experienced the ultimate disappointment last Saturday when they went down to a 3-0 defeat against Salford City.

That loss at the final hurdle means Fylde will spend another season in the National League and will have to wait at least another 12 months to become a Football League club for the first time in their history.

Dave Challinor’s men can still end the campaign with silverware though should they overcome Leyton Orient this Sunday.

Haythornwaite said: “You don’t normally get two cracks at Wembley though, do you? In fact sometimes you don’t get one go in a lifetime. To get two games in a week is certainly remarkable.

“We’re playing against a very good side, we’re playing against the champions. They beat us twice and you don’t become the champions by being a bad side.

“But it’s Wembley and if we do the right things then there’s absolutely no reason I won’t be smiling come Sunday night and not upset as I was last weekend.

“It was an awful experience. It wasn’t a day that I particularly enjoyed but I’ve said to my wife I will definitely enjoy this occasion.

“It wasn’t so much nerves that was the problem, it was just because it was massive wasn’t it? It was a journey we started 12 years ago and we were 90 minutes away from doing it.

“It’s a horrible, horrible feeling. Those 45, 46 games all disappear in 90 minutes.

“I knew the enormity of it, as did Dave, but I must admit I didn’t really enjoy a single minute of it at all.

“That’s not sour grapes, it was just that it wasn’t an enjoyable day for me. Of course it we had won it would have been.

“I’m looking forward to this weekend and I’m sure I’ll enjoy it a lot more.”

Haythornwaite concurs with his manager’s view that, irrespective of what happens on Sunday, this season will have been a successful one.

“If at the start of the season we were offered two Wembley finals in consecutive weeks then we would have taken it,” he added.

“It’s an amazing success for this football club and for where we’ve come from.

“Obviously you want to finish the job off and win one of those two games at Wembley, but even if we don’t it’s not the end of the world.

“It’s a wonderful achievement. We’re winners, we’re used to winning and we don’t like losing.

“We don’t go to lose and I know the lads will give it a good go and I think their experience of having been there a week earlier will give us that little edge over Leyton Orient.

“It is a daunting experience for everyone, isn’t it? And that applies whether you’re the chairman, manager or a player.

“To be at Wembley can be quite scary no matter how well prepared you are.

“But we’ve had a great season and I’m happy with it. I’m happy with how we’ve played football, I’m happy with where we’ve got to and it will be the icing on the cake should we win on Sunday.”

Haythornwaite also insists his target of reaching the Football League by 2022 very much remains in place despite last week’s defeat.

“I said before if promotion didn’t come this year, which it obviously hasn’t, then I’m confident it will happen in the next two to three years,” he said.

“We’re already in preparation for that, we’re already discussing targets to improve the side and looking to keep hold of our best players. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

Fylde are expected to be cheered on by a far greater number of fans than they were last week, with at least 4,000 expected, although their support will still be dwarfed by the opposition.

“The other thing that is great for the boys is the fantastic support we’re going to be taking,” Haythornwaite said.

“We’re not taking 20,000 like Leyton Orient but we’ll still have 4,000 to 5,000 there.

“We’ve got so many people demanding tickets and demanding coaches but they’re good problems, problems you like.

“I’m sure that support will be a great boost to the lads when they run out.

“We’re also playing in our real colour of white which is important to us as well.”