Jim Bentley looks forward to crunch clash at Chorley as Fylde put 'stutter' behind them

Jim Bentley believes AFC Fylde’s “stutter” is behind them as they look forward to tonight’s crunch derby at Chorley (7.45pm).

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That “sticky spell”, as boss Bentley calls it, coincided with a player shortage unlike any he has known in his career.

Revenge for their Boxing Day defeat at home to Chorley would move Fylde within one point of second-placed Brackley Town and within four of leaders GatesheadFylde start next month by visiting both those clubs.

Jim Bentley is delighted to have captain Alex Whitmore back on the field as Fylde's injury issues ease Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

However, defeat tonight would see them slip below Chorley on goal difference.

It’s why there’s been no rest at Mill Farm since Saturday’s 2-1 defeat of Guiseley, as Bentley explained: “We had no recovery day on Sunday. We wanted everyone in preparing and doing what we can to give ourselves the best preparation and the best opportunity of winning on Tuesday.

“Chorley is a big fixture for us after they got the upper hand on us in the home game. They are a well-drilled and well-organised outfit. We have to make sure we do everything we can to get ourselves mentally and physically right.”

That has been helped by the arrival of new faces – Danny Whitehead scored his first Fylde goal at the weekend – and the return of players after injury and unavailability.

Bentley added: “I’ve never known a period like we’ve been through in the past couple of months, with personal issues and with injuries keeping players out for two or three months. Every club will go through that but we’ve had all ours at the same time. It’s been hard to keep going.

“It’s a strong group with a great togetherness but a little bit of adversity or negativity can affect them and that seems to have been the case.

“We stuttered through some moments, but that’s behind us and we can look forward to a positive end to the season. We’ve brought new players in and are still looking to add one or two. Players who have had personal issues are in a better place now and we have to make sure we keep our foot on the gas.

“We want to win every game but if we don’t, then we don’t want to get too low on ourselves and let it affect the next game. That seemed to be what happened in that little spell.”

Bentley says he’ll settle for results like Saturday’s for the rest of the season, despite admitting it was “all hands to the pump” to protect their lead against a Guiseley side who were down to 10 men.

He explained: “I thought our performance wasn’t as good when the opposition went down to 10 men. As you miss a couple of chances, they galvanise, throw caution to the wind and have a go. I think Guiseley are a useful outfit, who try to play out and are in a false position.

“We have to show a bigger killer instinct than we did because we could have been out of sight in the first half when it was 11 v 11. The result was massive for us.”

Tonight’s rearranged match is one two Fylde were forced to call off following their Covid outbreak at the start of the year. The other, at home to York City, has been confirmed for Tuesday, March 1 (7.45).

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