Trophy saga could hit promotion bid, says Fylde boss

Dave Challinor
Dave Challinor
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Frustrated AFC Fylde manager Dave Challinor is worried that the saga of their FA Trophy tie with Skelmersdale United could ultimately hamper their promotion bid.

The clubs will try yet again to complete the first-round tie tonight (7.45pm).

After the teams drew their first-round tie 4-4 at Kellamergh Park on December 15, the replay on Merseyside has been postponed three times due to a waterlogged pitch, most recently on Monday night.

The second round is due to be played on Saturday, with the winners away to Eastbourne Borough.

However, that match won’t happen unless Evo-Stik League Skem are able to entertain Fylde this evening.

And Challinor fears the situation could put his side at a huge disadvantage. The Fylde boss said: “We have spent the last couple of days trying to sort out a neutral venue but that has been pretty fruitless so far.

“It’s not looking good for Wednesday, if I’m honest, because the weather hasn’t improved since Monday.

“We have been actively trying to find somewhere else to play. We’ve probably tried over a dozen different places but we are struggling to get anywhere.

“The FA are pushing Skem to find a neutral ground and we did find one potential venue but they wanted too much money.

“We don’t particularly want the tie bringing back to Kellamergh Park. It doesn’t make sense to potentially wreck our pitch.

“Of course we want to get the game played, but ultimately it could have been played to a finish on the original night to avoid all of this.”

Challinor says the rules allow Trophy ties to be settled on penalties after one game, without a replay, provided all parties agree. “I think that decision now is coming back to haunt the FA and it is making a real mess for both teams,” he said.

“If we can’t play the game on Wednesday, it will result in the eventual winner of the tie having to travel to Eastbourne on Tuesday night. That obviously gives Eastbourne a massive advantage.

“It is getting frustrating for everyone now and the tie just needs playing.

“Skelmersdale aren’t looking to get out of their league, but we are and the league schedule is very important to us. The way things are going, we are looking at a long trip to Lowestoft on a Tuesday night.”

The epic trek to Lowestoft in Vanarama National North has been scheduled for this Saturday since the fixtures were first released but was always liable to be moved if either side progressed in the Trophy.

Challinor added: “The way the league have done the fixtures is ridiculous. To put us up against Lowestoft on an FA Trophy weekend doesn’t make sense.

“It’s like they were banking on both of us getting knocked out, even though at that stage of the competition we are the highest-ranked teams.

“So it’s a double hit if we don’t play on Wednesday because we could have two 12-hour-plus round trips during midweek.

“For the lads with jobs it’s almost impossible.

“But I suppose we just have to try and deal with it as best we can.

“If there’s one positive to take from all of this, it’s the extra time we have got to get players fit again.

“The first couple of cancellations weren’t too bad, but now it’s just getting annoying because it’s putting us at a disadvantage not only in this competition but also in the league.”