Vanarama National League North
AFC Fylde v NFU
Saturday 9 April 2016
Kick-off 3.00 pm
Third-placed Ferriby travel to second-placed AFC Fylde on Saturday. Fylde leap-frogged The Villagers into second place on Tuesday with a draw at Stalybridge. Ferriby are now a point behind but do have a game in hand.
Saturday’s match could go a long way to deciding second and third positions. The Villagers certainly need to get at least a point on Saturday so that they can then try to take full advantage of their game in hand.
Ferriby won the reverse fixture 3-0 in November. This was Ferriby’s first win in five attempts against Fylde. The two previous fixtures at Fylde have resulted in 1-0 defeats so Saturday would be a good time to start reversing that trend.
Fylde’s home form has been mixed with nine wins and four draws in their 18 games. With 22 goals concede they have let in more at home than any of the other top-eight clubs. Against that, they have the fourth best home scoring record with 36 goals.
The play-off race is still far from being decided. Harrogate are now in third position, one point behind Ferriby and Fylde. Again, Ferriby have a game in hand on Harrogate. Boston occupy the final play-off spot. They are one point ahead of Nuneaton who have two games in hand and a much better goal difference. Tamworth are a further point behind but have also played two more games than Nuneaton.
League leaders Solihull have virtually won the title, needing only another five points to clinch it.
Finishing second or third is important as that will guarantee playing at home in the second-leg of the semi-final. The highest placed finalist has home advantage in a single game final.
Ferriby go in to the game with five unbeaten games behind them. Two wins will guarantee Ferriby a play-off spot given that their goal difference is much better than the teams below them. They had to overcome a two-goal deficit gain a point from last Saturday’s game with Worcester. The Villagers actually led 3-2 with a couple of minutes left but conceded a late equaliser. They will be quite content if that run is extended to six games on Saturday.
Manager Billy Heath commented,
“I suppose you have to say it was a good point after being two goals down. But we did finally take the lead and we should have closed out the game to take all three points.
“People say we should have won when you looked at the respective league positions but Worcester have had some really good results against the play-off contenders. That is why this league is so difficult to win., everybody can beat everybody else.”
Assistant Manager Mark Carroll comments,
“We are in a great position at the moment. We would have snapped people’s hand off at the beginning of the season if we’d been offered this.
“The players are a special bunch and never know when they are beaten. We are a team rather than a set of individuals and this makes a massive difference.
“It is a relatively young squad but we have a number of experienced players and they use their experience to bring-on the younger players in games and training.”
Looking ahead to Saturday, Billy Heath comments,
“It doesn’t need saying that Saturday’s match is a crucial game to both sides. Perhaps the pressure is a little more on Fylde given their midweek draw and also the fact that they are at home.
“We will travel in the belief that we can get a result. Their home record is good but not outstanding. Our games there in the past have been tight affairs and Saturday is not likely to be any different.
“We were a bit sluggish in the first-half last week and we really cannot afford to start slowly at Fylde.
“It’s important that we finish as high as possible.
Heath should have a full squad to choose from on Saturday.
NFU squad: Adam Nicklin, Ben Middleton, Sam Topliss, Josh Wilde, Ash Palmer, Mark Gray, Danny Hone, Liam King, Russ Fry, Adam Bolder, Danny Clarke, Danny Emerton, Ryan Kendall, Curtis Bateson, Nathan Hotte, Tom Denton, Wayne Brooksby