How Richie can help two teams to go up

Ritchie Allen'Fleetwood Town
Ritchie Allen'Fleetwood Town

FLEETWOOD Town and AFC Fylde both believe they can benefit from striker Richie Allen’s controversial move up the Fylde coast.

Town announced last Thursday that they had officially given Fylde seven days’ notice of an approach for their 21-goal top scorer, then the deal to bring Allen back to Highbury for a second stint was completed later that day.

The Conference high-flyers stated that: “Fleetwood Town are set to loan Allen straight back to AFC Fylde so he can gain further match practice and play a big part in their Evo-Stik promotion push” – but this deal quickly fell through.

However, Fylde managed to turn the situation to their advantage as they romped to a club record 7-0 win over Harrogate Railway last Saturday, which propelled them to the top of the table, while Allen settled into his new career as a full-time player and joined Town on this week’s trip to Scotland.

AFC Fylde boss Dave Challinor said Allen’s exit featured in team talks ahead of last weekend’s seventh successive victory, with hat-trick hero Michael Barnes especially inspired.

Challinor said: “We spoke at length before the game about having a siege mentality, but they are a good, tight group anyway.

“We had spoken to Barnesey at half-time in the previous game (at Radcliffe Borough) and said the difference between him and Richie was just that Richie had more belief. We thought that was the only thing missing.

“So what happened on Saturday was great timing. He created chances for others and could have had five himself.”

As for Allen’s return on loan, Challinor says it won’t be happening.

He added: “We feel we’ve been let down a little over how the transfer was handled. I think there’s slight disappointment on Richie’s part too because he would have liked to have finished the job he started here, but he deserves his opportunity at Fleetwood.

“We waived the seven days on the understanding he was coming back on loan but Fleetwood wanted a lot of money for him to come back, so we decided on principle not to go ahead with that.

“We thought he would be available to us last Saturday and it was only on the Friday afternoon that it transpired he would not be, so that hindered our preparations.

“But it’s part and parcel of this game that if you are at a team that is going well, other clubs will be interested in your players. You want your players to play at the highest level they can, but from a selfish perspective it’s bad timing and you just want to get the transfer window out of the way.”

Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley said: “We offered to loan Richie back for a sum which was less than they had offered him for a new contract. We thought that was reasonable but Fylde chose not to accept it.

“I also think he has done particularly well in training and Micky no longer wants to loan him back.”

Mellon wasn’t personally involved in the deal but welcomes the chance to learn more about Allen each day.

Mellon said: “We knew he was a good player when we signed him but we didn’t know how far from our first team he would be if he trained with us every day.

“We didn’t want to take away one of Fylde’s better players if he wasn’t going to be playing for us. I didn’t get involved in the negotiations but the loan hasn’t happened, and now we have him every day and we will find out if he is good enough.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on Richie but he is a lad who deserves a chance.”

And Mellon says it isn’t only Allen’s footballing ability which will determine whether he makes the step up.

The manager added: “Fleetwood Town is unrecognisable from the club he was at a few years ago (Allen left in 2007), so he needs the right attitude. If he gets that right he can be a fantastic player.

“It’s a huge challenge but I believe from talking to him that he is quite willing to take that on.

“And we believe we can make him a better player by adding fitness and sharpness to what he already has in terms of pace and ability.”