Fylde boss Alex Loney ready for the heat of derby battle
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The joint head-coach was disappointed with their performance in Leeds, where Otley inflicted only Fylde’s second defeat of the National Two North season and ended a seven-game winning run.
The hosts just edged the contest, 28-27, but Loney had no complaints over the outcome on tasting defeat for the first time in three months.
Loney told The Gazette: “The scoreline was as tight as it can get but we weren’t good enough. If we had got away with a win, it would have been fortunate rather than deserved.
“There was some good play and we forced enough pressure for four tries but we have to be better.
“We can’t go to a place like Otley undercooked and we didn’t get it right.”
Fylde may have lost top spot to Sedgley Park, who have won all 16 games, but a last-minute try by Oli Parkinson secured two bonus points to leave Loney’s side just one behind the leaders.
Fylde have played a match more but there’s still everything to play for and Loney said: “The bonus points are a small consolation but we are glad we got them because you don’t know what the final shake-up will be.
“Two points are the most you can get if you lose, so that’s a silver lining, but overall the feeling is of disappointment because we felt we are a good enough team to have got the win.”
Otley were promoted with Preston last year but have adapted better and this was the fourth-placed side’s ninth straight win.
Hoppers arrive at the Woodlands for the 3pm kick-off with just three wins to their name.
Preston stand 12th, having won none of their nine away games although they drew at bottom club Blaydon.
Loney added: “We have to make sure we get the performance levels right, first and foremost.
“The objective is to get maximum points from as many games as we can but we know Saturday will be a stern challenge because Preston have good players.
“If you look at where we are in the league and where Preston are, the key for us is to take the emotion out of the derby and make sure we win to maintain our position.”
A key period of the Otley game was the 10-minute spell Connor Wilkinson spent in the sinbin.
Fylde conceded two tries while a man down, fell two scores behind and were chasing the game from that point.
“Their back-to-back tries did pile pressure on but there were plenty of moments when I felt we could take control,” said Loney.
“We were just making uncharacteristic errors and we’ll look carefully at that, but the lads know very quickly what they should have done better.
“You have to give Otley credit. They are a team in form and deserved their win.”
Fylde won 22-6 at Hoppers’ Lightfoot Green home in the second game of the season and the teams have had to wait five months for this rematch, which was frozen off a week before Christmas.