Chesterfield are, remarkably, underdogs against Fylde but can take inspiration from another team in blue

Chesterfield should take inspiration from another blue-clad team of underdogs this weekend.

Wednesday, 3rd October 2018, 6:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 4th October 2018, 7:20 am
Photo Neil Cross
AFC Fylde v Wigan FA Cup pre-match conference with manager Dave Challinor, chairman David Haythornthwaite
Photo Neil Cross AFC Fylde v Wigan FA Cup pre-match conference with manager Dave Challinor, chairman David Haythornthwaite

When you study the two teams’ respective histories, it’s almost incredible to say it, but the Spireites are not favourites to win their Saturday clash with AFC Fylde.

The team only very recently removed from their long standing Football League status are not expected to beat the team who, just four years ago, played against the Matlocks and Buxtons of this world.

The club who attracted almost 5,000 to their opening home league fixture – a midweek game no less – go into this weekend’s contest 13 points behind the club that drew just over 1,200 on the first day of the season.

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When you compare the size of the clubs, the respective fanbases and the history, it’s not even close.

But when you put the two clubs’ recent results side by side, there’s only likely to be one winner.

AFC Fylde have been handsomely backed to their current position in the National League play-offs.

But as the likes of Gainsborough Trinity discovered during the deep-pocketed Peter Swann era, even with former Premier League boss Brian Little in charge, money is no guarantee of success.

In Dave Challinor, the Coasters have a manager who was a winner before he arrived in Lancashire.

As Colwyn Bay boss, he won promotion to the Conference North and left the Welsh outfit with a win per centage just north of 50 per cent.

Currently, his win per centage as Fylde manager is 53 per cent.

He won the Northern Premier League Division One title, followed that up with a Northern Premier League play-off triumph and then won the National League North.

The former Tranmere and Bury defender enjoyed four promotions in six years and last season came close to a fifth, leading Fylde to the National League play-offs.

Fylde are determined to end their stay in non-league and you wouldn’t bet against it, given their upward trajectory.

Chesterfield, as has been painfully and painstakingly documented, have been on a three year decline.

At the time when Challinor took over at Fylde, they would have requiredfive promotions to join the Spireites.

Seven years on they meet somewhere in the middle.

Their recent respective trends have carried into the current season, with just one team – big spending Salford – getting the better of Fylde thus far and Chesterfield last tasting victory two months and 11 games ago.

Saturday’s visitors, in the shape of Danny Rowe, boast a remarkably prolific goalscorer.

The former Barrow and Lincoln striker has terrified defences ever since his 2014 move to Fylde.

In his first season he plundered 35 goals, his second brought 31 and his third a ridiculous 48.

Last term, playing at this level, he fired in another 28.

If you add those tallies together, you get danger for a Chesterfield defence prone to costly errors.

The form guide, the league table and recent history make Fylde the favourites.

Last weekend, the Ryder Cup showed that an underdog status can mean very little when a team comes together and everyone contributes.

The Europeans were widely tipped to be overawed by a talent-rich group of American golfers.

And yet the men in blue sent their highly touted opponents back across the North Atlantic with their talented tails between their legs.

Everyone chipped in, the team was greater than the sum of its parts and togetherness shone through, putting a team of individuals in the shade.

Before the golf fantatics take a swing at the analogy with a four iron, yes the European team was stacked with talent, experience and some in-form players.

The Spireites simply cannot boast all of those things.

But if Chesterfield want to get that oh-so-badly-needed win in front of supporters who are almost completely out of patience, it’s going to take every single player to contribute.

There can be no passengers and no liabilities.

The men in blue should take great offence at being underdogs, show more than a little indignation at their current place in the footballing world and remind Fylde and everyone else that they’re still a big club.