Magpies ready to face leaders

Injury doubt: Adam Mather is hoping to be fit for tomorrow's crunch top-of-the-table clash against Skelmersdale United
Injury doubt: Adam Mather is hoping to be fit for tomorrow's crunch top-of-the-table clash against Skelmersdale United
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Garry Flitcroft is adamant his players will suffer no hangover tomorrow as Chorley ready themselves for a monumental league clash against Skelmersdale United at Victory Park.

The Magpies suffered the heartbreak of a penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Conference Premier outfit Tamworth on Tuesday night to bow out of the FA Trophy at the last-16 stage.

After 180 minutes of football and 30 minutes of extra-time, Chorley – who were the lowest-ranked club left in the competition – were eventually knocked out 6-5 on penalties in front of a crowd of nearly 1,400 at Victory Park.

However, Flitcroft and his men have no time to dwell on the result as they face, arguably, their biggest match of the season against NPL Premier Division leaders Skem tomorrow.

Second-placed Chorley currently trail the leaders by four points but a win this weekend will see them move to within a point – with four games in hand.

And despite Skem being able to rest up in midweek while Chorley were going toe-to-toe with Tamworth, Flitcroft is sure his players will be ready in both mind and body come 3pm tomorrow afternoon.

Flitcroft said: “I have mixed emotions after Tuesday night.

“I’m proud of the lads, who were outstanding over the two games against Tamworth, but also disappointed because we should have won the game.

“To get beaten on penalties is always hard.

“Their manager came up to me after the game and said what a good outfit we are.

“He wished us all the best in our promotion bid but he was a relieved man.

“He knows that we were the better team over the two 90 minutes and extra time and deserved to go through. When it goes to penalties – it’s a toss of coin.

“It went for us in the last round against Forest Green Rovers.

“We were ahead for two penalties on Tuesday and if our keeper Sam Ashton makes a save then we go through.

“Sam was fantastic, he made two great saves and nearly saved the penalty which would have taken us through.

“But I said to the lads in the dressing room that we have to keep looking forward and we’ve got a massive game against Skem tomorrow.

“Obviously they had no game in midweek and that’s the only problem. But I don’t think that will affect my lads.

“We were up against a side who are full-time on Tuesday night and we were stronger at the death.

“The fitness levels of my team are great and that’s because of the way we train them.

“I know they want to get out there again and win that game tomorrow which will put us one point behind with four games in hand.”

Skem are the only team in the division to have beaten Chorley away from home in the league this season.

And they will know the Magpies are equally tough to beat on their home patch.

Flitcroft is not paying too much attention to the possibility that a Skem win tomorrow will see them stretch their lead at the top to seven points, which could prove psychologically significant despite Chorley’s games in hand.

He said: “I am not thinking about that really at this stage of the season.

“There’s still a long way to go. We go into the game with the frame of mind that a win for us will see us go a point behind with four games in hand.

“They are a good footballing side, who try to get the ball down and play.

“They beat us at their place 1-0. They scored in the 92nd minute after we had totally dominated the game.

“I know their manager has watched us a couple of times recently and he will know what a strong side we are.

“He will be more worried about us than we are about them.”

Flitcroft also had a word of praise for the club’s supporters, who turned out in their numbers for Saturday’s away tie, and the replay, against Tamworth.

He is hopeful the fans will continue to back the team as they aim to win promotion to the Conference North.

“We had a massive attendance on Tuesday night,” Flitcroft said.

“They all stayed behind at the end to show their appreciation of the lads’ effort and performance.

“With the conditions the way they were – it was raining and windy – I was expecting seven or eight hundred.

“But to have nearly 1,400 , it just goes to show the potential at the club. I am hoping they continue to come and watch us and get behind us in the league.

“The atmosphere on Tuesday night is what we like at Victory Park.

“They were singing all the way through the match and they spurred the lads on.”

On the injury front, Flitcroft is hopeful full-back Adam Mathers will be available 
after he missed the match against Tamworth through injury.

“He could have a chance for tomorrow – fingers crossed,” said Flitcroft.

Brandon Zibaka is definitely out of tomorrow’s game.