Good start can be massive says AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor

AFC Fylde welcome Preston to Mill Farm on Saturday after defeating Wigan Athletic on Tuesday   Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
AFC Fylde welcome Preston to Mill Farm on Saturday after defeating Wigan Athletic on Tuesday Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN
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AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor says a positive pre-season can aid their quest to hit the ground running as he eyes another promotion push.

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A jam-packed pre-season schedule continues at home to Preston North End at Mill Farm tomorrow as Challinor’s Coasters build towards the National League kick-off at Aldershot in three weeks.

And with eight league games in August alone and a busy September to follow, a good start is important to Fylde’s bid to win a place in the Football League.

Challinor said of that all-action August: “It’s why from our perspective it is important to get your (transfer) business done early. The first two months are ultimately a third of your season.

“If you don’t start well it is not the be all and end all, though 14 games in the first two months can ultimately shape where your season goes.

“The pre-season is massively important because you have to hit the ground running.

“You have an opportunity to pick up a lot of points in a short place of time.

“Then the FA Trophy and FA Cup become a reality and things settle down but the start of the season is massively important. We don’t want to be playing catch-up at the end of the season.

“This league is front-loaded an awful lot but it always has been.”

Fylde missed out on promotion in the play-off final at Wembley but Challinor says another challenge at the top can’t be taken for granted.

And he cites opening opponents Aldershot’s decline from promotion hopefuls to relegation battlers as evidence of how tough this league is.

Challinor told The Gazette: “Getting promoted is really difficult because you only have one automatic place and one through the play-offs.

“The league continues to get stronger.

“It might sound a bit pessimistic but you only have to look in recent years at the teams that were challenging one year and in relegation battles the next.

“Aldershot got a reprieve, so I wouldn’t be flippant enough to say we will be up there – but I look at the squad we have got and I’m really happy with it.

“If I was asked now if I would take a place in the play-offs – absolutely I would. This league is really close.

“Do I think we can compete and challenge? Absolutely.

With the ability we have in the squad and with what we can potentially add to it, I’m really happy.

“But over the course of 46 games you need to play well, you need luck, and you need to stay away from suspensions and injuries – there are lots of variables.”

For Challinor, Fylde’s triumphant return to Wembley to win the FA Trophy a week after the play-off final against Salford City meant the disappointment of not winning promotion has not hung over the club this summer.

But he still wants that near miss to be used as motivation in the months ahead.

“To become the first side to win the FA Trophy and the FA Vase was massive for the group,” he said.

“It is a great place to win and a fitting end to a good season for us.

“There will always be the disappointment but you get that in football.

“Everyone wants to be able to play in the Football League but the disappointment of last year will not hang over us – it is something we will use as motivation.

“We want to start the season positively and have more and more success.”