GARRY Flitcroft insists faltering Chorley remain the favourites to win the Evo-Stik League Premier Division despite their defeat to title rivals AFC Fylde in the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy final.
Fylde stretched their impressive unbeaten run to 16 matches when they ran out 4-1 winners in Tuesday’s Reebok Stadium showpiece.
After the match delighted Coasters boss Dave Challinor claimed the victory would act as the perfect boost to his in-form side’s chances of chasing down the Magpies at the summit.
But Flitcroft is adamant the loss will not derail his table-topping team’s bid to hold on to pole position and the automatic promotion place that comes with it.
The Chorley manager said: “If we win our game in hand we will go six points clear.
“We’ve also got a better goal difference, which is worth another point.
“We’ve just got to win as many games as we can as Fylde keep chasing us.
“When you’re top of the league everyone wants to beat you and that’s when you’ve got to stand up and your leaders come out.
“I told the lads at the end of the game that this cup run has been a bonus in what has been a brilliant season for us.
“We’re still in the driving seat, we’re top of the league, and the next 10 games are going to be serious stuff.”
The Magpies, who have won just one of their last seven matches in all competitions, resume their league campaign on Saturday when they welcome Nantwich Town, who are unbeaten in March, to Victory Park.
And Flitcroft, who led Chorley to Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy glory two years ago, admits they will need to improve on their performance at the Reebok.
He said: “We were disappointed with the first two goals we conceded and I just felt four or five of my lads didn’t perform like they have been doing this season.
“The second goal killed us and from our point of view it was a sloppy goal. The first one was sloppy, too, but after getting ourselves back into it, and after getting the crowd on our side again, we just needed to get into half-time level and go again in the second half.
“But it didn’t happen that way and second half I thought we had a lot of the ball without penetrating them, although the final scoreline flattered them.
“We won this Trophy two seasons ago and it’s a brilliant night – I’m sure Fylde will go out and enjoy it.
“But this season wasn’t about winning the Lancashire Trophy for us, it was about winning the league, and we look forward to knuckling down on Saturday.”
Injury was added to insult for the Magpies when defenders Keil O’Brien and Paul Jarvis came off injured.
It means Flitcroft, who was already set to lose O’Brien and Kieran Walmsley to suspension, is in desperate need of defensive cover going into the final 10 games of the campaign.