Jim Bentley and Ben Tollitt bid to build on positive start in first AFC Fylde home game
A coach breakdown could not stall AFC Fylde’s fast start to the season and boss Jim Bentley aims to continue setting the early pace in tomorrow’s eagerly-awaited opening home game against Boston United.
The National League North contest will be the Coasters’ first competitive fixture at Mill Farm since defeating Chorley 4-0 on January 2 and the first in front their home fans for 17 months.
And Bentley hopes his side don’t have to overcome the sort of adversity which blighted the build-up to last weekend’s 4-2 opening-day win at Guiseley.
The Coasters manager explained: “The M62 was shut and our coach broke down. We had to cancel a pre-match meal in Bradford and get a replacement coach.
“We got to ground around 1.45 but it wasn’t ideal preparation. We came away with the win but we can play better than that and I think we will.”
It’s a sign of the standards set by Bentley that he spoke of his disappointment at the Leeds club scoring a second goal, albeit in stoppage time after Fylde had hit four.
He added: “There were few negatives on a very positive day for the club.
“It’s great to get off to a good start on a day there were some surprising results, but that happens at the start of a season.”
The headline-grabber was winger Ben Tollitt, who scored the first two goals and was happy to describe them to the club website afterwards.
Tollitt said: “Chaddy (assistant manager Nick Chadwick) has been on to me and all of us wingers really to make sure we get in at the back stick. And as soon as it left Luke Burke’s foot I knew Sammo (Jack Sampson) was going to miss it and I would have to make it. I got in for tap-in.
“For the second, I could hear them (the Guiseley dugout) all game saying, ‘Show him down the line’, so I thought I’d cut inside.
“The shot was on target and the keeper was probably going to save it, but the deflection took it in and they all count so I’m made up.”
And Bentley was made up for him, saying: “Ben has done really well. He was a bit of a slow starter and got better, and it’s been a similar pattern this season.
“He started a bit slowly by his standards but he’s given some of the best performances in training recently.
“He looked a threat at Guiseley and took his opportunities well.”
Fellow wideman Nathan Shaw is a doubt for tomorrow’s game as is Sampson after hamstring injuries forced both off last weekend.
Bentley had previously stated he was looking to add more bodies to his squad and told The Gazette he was “very close” to doing some business ahead of the weekend.
But whoever Bentley has able for selection, he expects Boston to be a tough nut to crack, despite starting the season with a home defeat by Spennymoor Town.
The Fylde boss added: “Boston will be a tough game but it’s great to be back home for the first game in a long time in front of supporters.
“I missed both the games against Boston last season while I was isolating (they met twice in three weeks in the league and FA Trophy, and Bentley had his heart surgery between the two games), but I watched the games and they impressed me.
“And I think they will be stronger this season after making some good signings.
“They are an ambitious club with a new stadium but we’re a good side too and we fancy ourselves.
“It’s important to have good home form and we want to start out in the right way.”
Fylde have confirmed squad numbers for the new season: 1. Chris Neal, 2. Luke Burke, 3. Luke Conlan, 4. Liam Nolan, 5. Emeka Obi, 6. Alex Whitmore (captain), 7, Ben Tollitt, 8. Danny Philliskirk, 9. Jordan Hulme, 10. Nick Haughton, 11. Sam Osborne, 12. Luke Joyce, 14. Nathan Shaw, 15. Jack Sampson, 17. David Perkins, 21. Bobby Jones, 22. Stephen Dobbie, 23. Harvey Gregson, 24. Jack Byrne, 25.Jamie Stott, 26. Owen Robinson.
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