AFC Fylde’s victory over Chorley in the final of the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy could have huge implications in the destiny of the NPL Premier Division title.
That is the view of Coasters manager Dave Challinor, who watched his team deservedly defeat the Magpies 4-1 at Bolton Wanderers’ Reebok Stadium on Monday night.
As well as handing themselves a nice piece of silverware, Fylde also inflicted further woe on Chorley, who have now won just one and lost four of their last seven games.
Although Garry Flitcroft’s men still lead the way at the top of the table, the gap between themselves and the chasing gap has narrowed alarmingly over the past few weeks.
The fourth-placed Coasters – who have won 13 in a 16-match unbeaten run – are now just three points behind Chorley, although they have played one game more.
Challinor said: “With the run that we have been on, if we had lost the game on Monday night I don’t think it would have made too much of a difference to us.
“We viewed Monday night as a bonus game. Obviously we have lost twice to Chorley in the league and we wanted to right that wrong.
“But I said to the lads beforehand, if we could win the game it would prevent Chorley from winning it.
“And with the run – the blip – that they have been on, if they could have beaten us in the final, it might have kick-started their season again.
“So in terms of the rest of the season, it was probably more important for us to stop Chorley from winning than actually ourselves winning.”
Despite all the pyschology associated with Monday night’s victory, Challinor was still thrilled to clinch the Trophy – the seventh time the club have won it.
“It was obviously great to win,” Challinor said. “Being able to go to a place like that, it was a great occasion.
“I think we were fully deserving of the win, although the two late goals made the last few minutes more comfortable for us and gave the scoreline a slightly flattering look.”
Fylde’s run-in to the end of the season does not look too daunting – they only have one team from the top five – Skelmersdale United – to play in their remaining nine games.
Tomorrow, they host Stamford at Kellamergh Park – a team they defeated 3-1 away last weekend
Challinor said: “The league is wide open. Chorley are still in the driving seat, but FC United have still got to play Chorley and if they win all their games, they will win the league.”
Chorley will look to maintain their grip on the top when they host Nantwich Town.