Magpies finding their Blyth spirit

Josh Hine
Josh Hine
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Garry Flitcroft’s Chorley side received a ‘mental boost’ ahead of their trip to Blyth Spartans tomorrow after dispatching promotion rivals Skelmersdale United 4-1 last Saturday.

Chorley are sitting pretty in second place, just one point off NPL Premier Division leaders Skem – with four games in hand.

And Chorley manager Flitcroff believes they can knock Skelmersdale off their perch when they travel to Blyth.

He said: “It was an emphatic win against Skem. Their away form has been poor recently and it was a massive game for us to win.

“We still have four games in hand on them. I’m proud of the lads we are in a great position.

“It might be a mental boost in the promotion push but I just want to keep winning matches.

“As long as we keep picking up the points it doesn’t matter how or what any other team is doing.”

Flitcroft has refused to be drawn into a war of words with Skelmersdale boss Tommy Lawson, after he questioned Chorley’s fitness levels.

He said: “Skem’s manager had been spouting his mouth off about us in the build-up to Saturday, but that isn’t how we do things – we did our talking on the pitch.

“We’d been in good form and had a tough few game,s like against Tamworth, so beating Skem was a great result.”

The Magpies travel to eighth place Blyth with confidence, but despite beating them 3-0 at Victory Park in September, Flitcroft’s men are wary of the Spartans’ threat.

He said: “I think it will be a tough game against Blyth – it is a hard place to travel to and they have a great home record.

“They have won their last four matches at home. They are pushing for a play-off place and are in good form so we know it will be tough test.”

Chorley recorded their highest gate of the season last Saturday with 1,968 fans attending the top-of-the-table clash.

And Flitcroft praised the supporters. He said: “The fans are getting really vocal and the atmosphere at Victory Park has been electric.

“They are the 12th man, it lifts the lads – not that they need spurring on with our recent run of form – the away support has been brilliant to .

“We took 500 to Tamworth and 300 to Marine. Blyth is a long way to travel but we still expect to take a few fans.”

Flitcroft has no injury worries and expects to announce a new signing in the next few weeks.

He said: “There is competition for places. We have 19 fit guys and it is unfortunate that some of the players can’t even get a spot on the subs’ bench.

“We have a strong squad and it is about taking your chance when you are in the side and making yourself irreplaceable.”

One of the ‘irreplaceables’ – star man Josh Hine – may have to sit things out shortly.

Flitcroft said: “Josh has been fantastic this season. When I signed him he had a niggling injury and he has been playing through the pain.

“He has a hernia which needs sorting in the next few weeks. He has genuine pace and is a natural attacker so we will really miss him.”

The Magpies manager does not want the recent bad weather to add to Chorley’s backlog of league games.

He said: “They do get some bad weather at Blyth but hopefully it won’t be postponed. We don’t want any more games in hand.”

l Lancaster City’s groundstaff have been working around the clock this week to ensure their home match against Ossett Albion gets the go-ahead.

The Dolly Blues have not kicked a ball in anger since January 4 – when they defeated Harrogate Railway athletic 2-1 – as all of their matches have been postponed due to the weather.

Their latest match against New Mills was called off because of a waterlogged pitch.

However, club officials are confident that the Giant Axe surface will be playable tomorrow.

City’s young attacker Tom Kilifin admitted he and his team-mates are desperate for the match against Albion, who are currently rock-bottom of the NPL First Division North, to go ahead.

Kilifin said: “We just want to get back into it now.

“You just want to get a bit of form going but it’s quite hard when you’re stopping and starting.

“Training is going well but it’s not the same as getting match time.”

On the injury front, captain Neil Marshall could return to the starting XI after groin surgery. The swashbuckling defender came through a reserve team game against Colne.

Elsewhere in the First Division North, Clitheroe face play-off contenders Ramsbottom United at Shawbridge. The Blues are in the middle of a torrid run of form which has seen them register just one win from their past 10 games.

Kendal Town have a difficult assignment away at Ossett Town. The pair both harbour faint hopes of reaching the play-offs.

Burscough welcome league leaders Curzon Ashton to Victoria Park.

l In the NPL Premier Division, AFC Fylde will be aiming to make it five wins on the trot when they welcome Witton Albion to Kellamergh Park. The Coasters’ play-off bid looked to be slipping during December when they suffered four consecutive defeats.

But they appear to have turned the corner in 2014 and are back up to fourth in the table.

l Beleagured Southport are in desperate need of three points when they travel to Barnet tomorrow. The Sandgrounders’ 2-1 midweek loss at home to Wrexham saw them drop into the Conference Premier relegation zone.