James Rowe: Fylde team selection so tough ahead of intense play-off semi-final with Boston United

Manager James Rowe admits team selection has been a very tricky task ahead of Sunday’s play-off semi-final at home to Boston United.

By Andy Moore
Saturday, 14th May 2022, 8:58 am

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The Coasters boss has overseen a busy week of preparations without knowing until Thursday night who his team would be playing in the National League North promotion competition.

Rowe has finalised his side since watching Boston triumph 2-1 at Kidderminster Harriers in their play-off opener, though he would like to see the rules amended to make more substitute places available.

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James Rowe has praised goalkeeper Chris Neal as an "outstanding individual" at a "devastating" time for his family

He told The Gazette: “I went to Kidderminster and it was a really good advert for the level. Both teams were a credit to the league and Boston proved worthy winners.

“It has been tough (not knowing their opponents until so late in the week) but we won't moan about it. We wanted to finish third, which gave us a full week to prepare and we've used it well.

“Now we can focus on Boston. We've beaten them recently (3-1 in Lincolnshire just three weeks ago) but the danger is to hold that result in too high regard because this game will be a lot different and intense.

“Selection has been challenging because you can still only name five substitutes and bring on three, though a fourth is allowed in extra-time.

“It means players miss out and I do think the rules are behind the times in this respect. The National League pyramid has become more more professional but this is something that needs looking at.”

Rowe says his group have been brought even closer together this week by the heartbreak of goalkeeper Chris Neal, who lost baby son Zachary to a lung disease aged less than five months.

The Fylde boss added: “None of us can really understand what Chris must be going through and he is showing great courage.

“That he is back in our group and training so well is a mark of the man. We are all behind him at what must be a devastating and harrowing time but Chris is an outstanding individual.”

By the time Fylde and Boston take the field, they will know which team is awaiting the winners in next weekend's final. The first semi-final today sees league runners-up Brackley Town face York City.