AFC Fylde head into tomorrow night’s National League North fixture on the back of a 31-day break, with the away victory at AFC Telford on 9th January being their last competitive outing.
That solid performance at The New Bucks Head Stadium was arguably The Coasters’ best display of the season, particularly away from home. Two last-minute match postponements succeeded that game, before the National League’s enforcement of a two-week suspension put a knife in the momentum that was being built.
The National League board are yet to find a resolution to put an end to the discontent, but in the meantime, games across the three leagues are back underway.
Nick Chadwick – who stepped into Jim Bentley’s shoes during his temporary absence – believes the stop-start nature of the current campaign has been challenging for all, but is glad that the players can get a taste of competitive football once again. Speaking to afcfylde.co.uk ahead of the Chester clash, he said: “It’s a unique situation for everyone. There’s been a break in our momentum which has been frustrating. We really felt as though we’d come into our own form-wise before the suspension, but in saying that, the players have trained really well.
“We’ve spent an awful lot of time on the training pitch, so I don’t think fitness or the handling of the ball will be an issue. The work that we have done has been really good, but we’ve missed being involved in the competitive fixtures at the weekends or on a Tuesday night.
“We are really excited about tomorrow’s fixture, and I’m sure there will be a lot of enthusiasm in the game, particularly in the early parts.”
Despite the challenges, Nick acknowledged the professional attitude of the players and their optimism during a period of uncertainty.
He said: “We’ve spoken many times about the characters and personalities that we have brought into the Football Club and I have to say that they have been brilliant throughout. You can sense an excitement; an urgency; an enthusiasm for the game – that’s what I love about this group. That enthusiasm is infectious and you can see that it rubs off on the whole club.
“There has also been a transparency from above about the situation; we’ve looked to keep them well-informed as new obstacles present themselves.
“They are all absolutely buzzing that they have a game tomorrow and that it looks as though the games are going to recommence. Unfortunately on Saturday,we didn’t get the opportunity to play against Guiseley, but that enthusiasm has continued into this game. There’s a feel-good factor within the Club at the minute and we have to make sure we impose that on our opponents.
Coasters boss, Jim Bentley, has been watching all of the games through the live streaming platforms during his recovery from heart surgery, but he will be in attendance at the Deva Stadium to manage his team. There’s no denying that, while away, his presence was sorely missed.
Commenting on Jim’s return to work, Nick said: “When you talk about enthusiasm and ambition, the gaffer is just boiling over with it at the minute. Having gone through what he’s gone through, and to be back in and around it is brilliant. He probably has the reigns on himself at the moment because he’s just so desperate to be back involved.
“We’ve always been close in terms of our communication, but it’s his presence around the building that gives everybody at the football club a lift, from the girls in the office to the players out on the pitch. “