Jim Bentley: Gateshead will be respected but don't scare AFC Fylde

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Boss Jim Bentley looks forward to “massive” matches away to top two Gateshead and then Brackley Town on the next two Saturdays, knowing his AFC Fylde side need points to stay in the title chase.
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AFC Fylde boss Jim Bentley brings loan striker to Mill Farm

Those teams have opened up a seven-point gap over the Coasters in National League North, though Brackley have played a game more.

Bentley’s side have slipped to fifth place following Saturday’s 1-0 home defeat by Curzon Ashton, who completed a double over the Coasters by holding on to an early lead provided by Alex Curran.

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Harry Davis was 'head and shoulders' above the rest on his Fylde debut says manager Jim BentleyHarry Davis was 'head and shoulders' above the rest on his Fylde debut says manager Jim Bentley
Harry Davis was 'head and shoulders' above the rest on his Fylde debut says manager Jim Bentley

But after a positive week’s training, Fylde are raring to go against leaders Gateshead, having beaten them twice at Mill Farm this season in the league and FA Trophy.

The Coasters also won on Tyneside last season and have not conceded a goal in those three meetings.

But the Fylde manager is under no illusions about the challenge posed by a side who had won four successive games before being held at York City last Saturday.

Bentley told The Gazette: “They are top for a reason and they are a good side, with a good front line.

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“But we’re certainly capable of winning. We are confident after a good week and we don’t fear anyone.”

Curzon have become a bogey side for Fylde and Bentley reflected: “I don’t think we deserved to lose but we made a mistake a paid for it with a goal. We gave them something to hang on to and they frustrated us. We should have scored at least one ourselves but that’s football.

“Then you look at the other results and think it’s been a bit of a hammer blow, and obviously we come into two massive games now. There’s a lot of football to be played but it becomes a lot harder if we don’t take points from these two.

“We’ve slipped in the table but football can change quickly. A couple of victories and you’re back on the horse moving in the right direction.

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“We’re in the mix but we can’t turn up opportunities to put maximum points on the board like we have recently.”

Two positives for Bentley from Fylde’s first defeat of 2022 were the debut displays of Harry Davis and Jarome Slew.

Davis, signed on a free transfer from Scunthorpe United on an 18-month deal, replaced injured captain Alex Whitmore at centre-half, while Slew helps ease the club’s striker shortage on a 28-day loan from Hampton & Richmond Borough.

Whitmore faces surgery on an ankle injury today and another extended spell on the sidelines but Davis has slotted straight in.

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Bentley said: “Alex’s injury is a bad one and that’s been the story of our year – we’ve never really been able to put a full-strength side out.

“But Harry has come in and was head and shoulders man of the match for me.

“I don’t think he put a foot wrong. He’s a good person and a good professional, and he didn’t deserve to be on the losing side.”

Bentley also welcomed Slew aboard but says the hunt for forwards goes on.

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“We’re still addressing the top end of the pitch, where we are still short of players who will affect the team and score goals,” he added. “We’ve missed out on quite a few forwards but we keep trying.

“I thought Jarome looked quite sharp. His play was good at times but he only met the team on the day of the game.

“He had a fantastic goalscoring record but lost his way a bit. He’s looking to get back up north and we’ll give him a chance to impress.”

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