Twin test looms for AFC Fylde

Jordan Tunnicliffe has recovered sufficiently to travel with the Fylde squad but is unlikely to play this weekend   Picture: Steve McLellan
Jordan Tunnicliffe has recovered sufficiently to travel with the Fylde squad but is unlikely to play this weekend Picture: Steve McLellan

Manager Dave Challinor is delighted by third-placed AFC Fylde’s start to the National League campaign, especially as he is convinced his new-look side has far from fulfilled its potential.

Their credentials will be tested, however, with two tests against fellow unbeaten sides over the holiday weekend: away to Sutton United tomorrow before a televised Mill Farm date with Harrogate Town on Monday.

Challinor’s Coasters travel to London for the first of those tests today and the manager said: “Sutton are very good on their 3G pitch. We know we didn’t get the results we needed away from home last year, so this will be a good test for us. But we go there full of confidence to try to win or at least not be beaten.

“We’ve started well and the pleasing thing is that there’s plenty to come.

It’s still a new group but we’re looking solid defensively and have only conceded three goals in five games.”

That’s despite losing centre-half Jordan Tunnicliffe to injury in the second game of the season at Wrexham, though he is now well enough to travel with the squad to Sutton.

Challinor said: “Tunni is joining in training and it’s looking positive. This game may come too soon for him. We definitely hope to have him involved next weekend.”

One player he hopes to involve at Sutton is midfielder Jim Kellermann, though Fylde were last night still awaiting international clearance to field a midfielder signed a week ago on a season-long loan from St Mirren.

“We expect a tough game in midfield at Sutton and Jim could be a main man for us in there, whether from the start or off the bench,” added Challinor.

Up front, last season’s 24-goal hitman Danny Rowe has quickly got back into the scoring groove with five from five this season, despite having to get used to new players around him.

Challinor added: “We have built our team around Danny and got players in who will suit him (like Joe Cardle, Danny Philliskirk and Gime Toure). We’ve added something a little different and a bit more creativity that will help us. We have looked a real threat.”

And Rowe is set to remain the focal point of Challinor’s team for at least four more months after another transfer window passed without the club’s prize asset being lured by an EFL outfit.

“We are fortunate in that we don’t have to sell Danny,” Challinor explained. “David came up with a valuation which would be acceptable to the club but nobody matched that figure.

“The biggest issue for me would be replacing him because we are talking really high transfer fees for the players who would interest us. Goals are the most difficult things to buy and Danny guarantees them.”

As Fylde don’t play their Monday game until the BT Sport cameras arrive for the 5.15pm kick-off, Challinor’s side have slightly longer between games than most of their rivals.

But Challinor said: “It’s still a quick turnaround and the key is to get the recovery nailed down as quickly as possible.

“We’ll be back late on Saturday and will decide on Sunday who is ready to go. The TV gives the players a bit more impetus and adrenaline to get through the weekend.”

Elsewhere, Squires Gate and AFC Blackpool both bounced back from 1-0 defeats last Saturday with midweek wins by the same scoreline in the Hallmark Security League.

Those victories, over Asthton Athletic and St Helens respectively, left Gate fifth in the premier division and AFC fourth in division one north.

Gate take a break from league action to visit Droylsden in the preliminary round of the FA Cup tomorrow.

The Greater Manchester club, who play a level above Gate in the Northern Premier League’s west division, had their first win of the season against newly promoted Runcorn Linnets last weekend.

Blackpool are in league action at home to second-bottom Daisy Hill, who have only a point to show for their first four games.