AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor has challenged on-loan winger Jonny Smith to impress parent club Bristol City as the Coasters look to finish their debut National League season in style, starting with tonight’s rearranged visit to Torquay.
READ MORE: Tough meeting for Fylde players
Victory over the third-bottom Gulls would lift seventh-placed Fylde at least one place in the play-off zone.
Smith, along with his team-mates, felt the full force of manager Challinor’s hairdryer treatment after a lacklustre first-half saw them a goal down against second-placed Sutton United.
The 20-year-old certainly took heed, crashing home a stunning leveller as the Coasters turned the game on its head to claim all three points and keep their promotion dream alive.
Now Challinor has urged Smith to push himself further still and prove his worth to the Championship side.
Challinor said: “Jonny is on a very good run of form, but I had a real dig at him at half-time at the weekend because I wanted more from him.
“The lads like Jonny that are less physical need to show that extra heart and desire.
“He needs to show us, and ultimately Bristol City, that he is good enough to play at a much higher level.
“He is going to come up against opposition that will try to rattle him and he will have to show them that he won’t be knocked about and that he can compete.
“If he does that then he has a real chance. Some young players might run and hide after getting a blasting but I have his best interests at heart and he rose to the challenge second half. “He was much better and much more positive and got that bit of luck for his goal that comes with hard work. He was instrumental in winning us the game.”
Challinor admits he will be wrapping matchwinner Danny Rowe up in cotton wool after his 24th league goal of the season completed the comeback against Sutton.
He followed up Smith’s equaliser with the winning goal at Mill Farm.
Challinor added: “I told Rowey that I thought he wasn’t at his usual standards, but in fairness he has played every single game this season and that is some feat.
“He has played more football than anybody else at the club this term and he is massively important to us, but we need him to keep going because we have some huge games coming up.
“His goal on Saturday took him to 30 in all competitions, which is a great effort. We have to look after him and make sure he’s right and ready to go. He could yet get to 30 goals in the league. It would be a big ask but one that he is more than capable of achieving.”
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