AFC Fylde captain Sam Finley joins Accrington Stanley

Sam Finley
Sam Finley

Dave Challinor has passed on his best wishes to Sam Finley after AFC Fylde’s club captain signed a two-year contract with Accrington Stanley.

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The Coasters offered Finley improved terms with his contract coming to an end but the 25-year-old has instead opted to move to the League One outfit.

Finley, who has been with Fylde since August 2015, played a leading role in the club’s rise up the leagues, helping them clinch the National League North title before captaining them to a play-off finish last season.

Prior to that, the midfielder had been at TNS in the Welsh league, winning the division four times and playing in the Europa League, as well as enjoying a season with Wrexham.

Challinor, whose Fylde side returned to pre-season training on Monday, says he is sad to see Finley go but believes the club already has a ready-made replacement in Ryan Croasdale, who signed for a club-record fee last Friday.

“Sam has been great for us and I hope he really kicks on,” Challinor told The Gazette.

“I know another manager told me about him and potentially he could have moved there, which could have been better for him in terms of moving away. But he’s got to focus on him.

“He’s done great for us when we could get him on the pitch.

“That’s the thing he needs to curtail. Obviously he missed an awful lot of games for us through suspension because of three red cards and 12 yellows. That detracts from his game.

“Hopefully he does really, really well. Some you lose and you move on, but we’ve already brought a replacement in with Ryan Croasdale.

“We’re happy with that, so we’re looking forward to working with him.

“He’s at a great age at 23. He’s a ball player, he’ll get on it with people in and around him and he suits the way we play.

“He’ll hopefully kick on and improve on what he’s done these last two years.

“Obviously it’s a step up for him but I know he’s looking forward to it and I believe he’ll become a really important player for us.”

Accrington boss John Coleman claims Finley turned down a higher wage at Fylde to make the move to east Lancashire.

He said: “Sam is a good player, who had two particularly good games against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup last season.

“He is a competitive midfielder who fits the mould here because he is hungry.

“He could have got more money playing in non-league but he wanted a crack at the league and he is backing himself to do that. I like that in a player.

“He is the type of player we want. We can’t give him riches but we can give him the platform to go on and better himself.”