​AFC Fylde pause for breath before fixture 'carnage'

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​​Boss Adam Murray made the most of a rare opportunity to give his AFC Fylde players a break this week ahead of a fixture schedule he labelled “ridiculous” and “carnage”.
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The Coasters players had Monday and Tuesday off following the 1-1 home draw with Chester, their first dropped points of 2023 after five straight wins had lifted them to the top of National League North.

No midweek game meant Fylde lost pole position to Kings Lynn Town, though free Tuesdays will soon become a thing of the past for the Mill Farm promotion-chasers.

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Handshakes all round but Saturday's encounter with Chester was a "strange game" for Coasters boss Adam Murray  Picture: STEVE MCLELLANHandshakes all round but Saturday's encounter with Chester was a "strange game" for Coasters boss Adam Murray  Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
Handshakes all round but Saturday's encounter with Chester was a "strange game" for Coasters boss Adam Murray Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

The rearrangement of last week's frozen-off fixture at Kings Lynn for March 21 has left Fylde with a sequence of seven successive Tuesday games, starting at Kettering Town on February 14.

Murray told The Gazette: “We started the week with a bit of a shutdown. We wanted the players to shut off from football to freshen up body and mind.

“Games being called off has made our schedule ridiculous. It's absolute carnage and this was our only chance for some switch-off team before we focus absolutely on the work ahead.”

With 18 games in nine weeks sure to stretch his squad, Murray was delighted to welcome two players back for the Chester game.

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“Tom Walker and Harry Davis have worked unbelievably hard,” he said. “It was great to get Walks on the pitch. You see as soon as he comes on that he's one of these players who lights things up.

"For me, he's going to be a huge player for us going forward.

“Harry's been a little unfortunate not to get into the squad because the back three have been brilliant.”

The tried and trusted defence is a reason Murray was happy for Kyle Morrison to join league rivals Kidderminster Harriers on loan for the rest of the season.

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The centre-back has made 24 appearances since joining from Leamington last March and Murray said: “Kyle has been a really big part of the team but because of injury he hasn't been able to establish himself in the starting 11 recently.

“I didn't see him starting regularly in the short-term, so it's important he goes out to get match-fit and get some football. We do have a call-back agreement and this works for both parties.

Fylde's winning run may have halted but Murray is happy to have got the Chester game out of the way, given the bad blood between the clubs following August's Deva meeting.

“It was a strange game,” added the head coach, who said goalkeeper Chris Neal was struck by coins thrown from the crowd.

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"It was a weird game with the stoppages and you could tell there was some rivalry.

“There was a lot of tension beforehand which spilled into the game and we spoke to the players about staying single-minded.

“We knew there would be things going on to disrupt our rhythm and they were putting pressure on the referee, but I was really proud of our players.”

Tomorrow brings a home game against a Curzon Ashton side who Fylde are yet to face this season, though the 16th-placed visitors are fresh from a 5-2 win over Farsley Celtic and did the double over Fylde last season.

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“I like Curzon and the way they go about their business,” said Murray. “If you allow them to get into their rhythm they are dangerous and they showed that by destroying Farsley.

“On the back of a really tough run of fixtures we go into another, though we know we need to focus on ourselves.”