Jim Bentley welcomes 'feelgood factor' back to AFC Fylde

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A first win of the year, new signings and a shorter injury list are bringing the “feelgood factor” back to AFC Fylde.
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Leamington 0 AFC Fylde 2: Coasters claim three points on their travels

So says manager Jim Bentley after the Coasters halted their four-game winless run with last Saturday’s 2-0 National League North victory at Leamington, where Sam Osborne scored against his former club and captain Alex Whitmore sealed the points.

There were debuts for left-back Jack Evans and midfielder Danny Whitehead as Fylde returned from a Covid-enforced break of 17 days.

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Sam Osborne scores Fylde's opening goal against his former club Leamington
Picture: STEVE MCLELLANSam Osborne scores Fylde's opening goal against his former club Leamington
Sam Osborne scores Fylde's opening goal against his former club Leamington Picture: STEVE MCLELLAN

Boss Bentley said: “We know our football can be excellent, and I thought at times it was, but after the spell we’d been on your confidence can take a bit of a beating.

“You have to do all you can to get back on track and be dogged, determined, disciplined and professional in everything you do.

“I thought Jack Evans did well on his debut, putting his body on the line. Danny Whitehead gave us loads of energy in the middle of the park and got us round the pitch. Right the way through the team everyone stood up to be counted.

“We should have scored more goals but not conceding breeds confidence because we know we have enough in our armoury to score goals.

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“Training has gone nicely this week, so let’s try to get on a bit of a run and move further up the table.”

That table has new leaders in Gateshead following their 4-1 win over bottom club AFC Telford United on Tuesday. Gateshead are seven points clear of third-placed Fylde, having played a game more

The coming week brings Fylde’s first home game of 2022 against Guiseley tomorrow followed by Tuesday’s rearranged trip to Chorley – one of two games the Coasters were forced to call off at the start of the year.

A boost in bodies means Bentley can look forward to a busy schedule. “We are slowly but surely starting to see one or two return,” he said. “Whitmore has been a big miss for us and was outstanding.

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“Chris Neal (goalkeeper) is back in training, so suddenly there’s competition there. Stephen Dobbie is back on the grass, Nathan Shaw was back on the pitch on Saturday, and Luke Conlan has worked flat out all week and is in contention to play against Guiseley.

“We’ve got a couple of new signings and we’re looking for a couple more. All those things suddenly breed a little bit of that feelgood factor we sense around the place.”

Fylde have also extended full-back Dan Pike’s loan from Blackburn Rovers until March 14, while midfielder Liam Nolan has joined AFC Telford United on loan until the end of the season.

Nolan, who has made nine appearances this season, exchanges a promotion quest for a relegation scrap and was in Telford’s starting side for the midweek loss to Gateshead.

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Bentley said: “With the signing of Danny Whitehead and the midfielders we already have in the squad, we thought it would be best if Liam goes and plays regular football. He’s a great lad who works hard and is liked by everyone at the club.”

The visit of Guiseley brings Fylde's season full circle, having won 4-2 away to the Leeds club on the opening day.

Only goal difference is keeping them out of the bottom two after winning once in seven outings but Bentley warned: “I don’t think their performances reflect their position. They are a capable outfit fighting for their lives and we have to be on our guard.”

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