CHORLEY will attempt to wrestle the Lancashire FA Challenge Trophy back from holders AFC Fylde tonight when the league rivals go head to head in the final at the Reebok Stadium (7.45pm).
No club has won the Trophy more times than the Magpies – 15 – but it is Fylde’s name who adorns it after they beat Bacup Borough in last season’s showpiece at the home of Bolton Wanderers.
Chorley, however, are desperate to reclaim the crown they last got their hands on two years ago when they came from behind to overcome Kendal Town.
The Magpies will go into the game as favourties but will not be underestimating Dave Challinor’s side, who remain hopeful of chasing down Garry Flitcroft’s men at the top of the table.
The respective squads this evening are likely to contain players who have served both clubs – including powerhouse striker James Dean. The former kick-boxing champion returned to Victory Park from Fylde in September and has gone on to score 16 goals to help keep the Magpies on course for a dream league and cup double.
Chorley goalkeeper Sam Ashton said: “James Dean has been unbelievable for us.
“He’s a nightmare for defenders. For me, our Andy Teague is the best defender in the league and he’s probably the best skipper I’ve played under.
“But even he said he wouldn’t like to play against James – and if Teaguey is saying it, he’s obviously right.”
Fylde boss Challinor knows all about Dean’s ability.
He used to play against him, when he wore the colours of Colwyn Bay, and he signed the 6ft 3in powerful and pacy frontman from FC Halifax Town in the summer of 2012 before allowing him to rejoin the Magpies in September.
Former Tranmere Rovers centre-back Challinor said: “Things didn’t work out how him and me would have liked but sometimes these things happen.
“He’s moved on and he’s done really well at Chorley.”
The Magpies have attracted home gates of more than 1,000 on four occasions this season and defender Mark Ross says the fans’ support is deeply appreciated by the players.
He said: “They are unbelievable.
“When you walk out on the pitch they give you such a big boost and I hope the fans know how much the lads appreciate it.”
Ross believes victory would act as big boost to seeing off Fylde and Skelmersdale United in the race for the championship.
He said: “If we win it obviously won’t mean we will the league but it will give us a huge push.”
Tickets cost £8 for adults and £4 for concessions.