Undistracted Magpies have National League North promotion target

Chorley defender Lewis Baines reckons it could be a blessing in disguise that their interest in the FA Cup is over.

Friday, 15th October 2021, 8:00 am

The former Fleetwood Town left-back was one of the stars who caught the nation’s imagination last season during the Magpies’ run to the fourth round proper.

He provided the killer pass for the first goal and then hit the winner in the second round victory over Peterborough United.

The Magpies went on to lose to Premier League Wolves, which was screened live on television at Victory Park. Baines admits he revelled in the national spotlight but thinks it’s not too bad a thing that the team went out at the second qualifying stage.

Lewis Baines

Their exit in the competition via a replay to fellow National League North side Southport came in between a fine run in the league which has seen the Magpies pick up 13 points from a possible 15.

It certainly did not derail their league fortunes and after last Saturday’s 2-0 win at Blyth Spartans, the Magpies have now moved into a play-off position.

And Baines believes a good cup run can be detrimental to a side’s focus on league matters and in Chorley’s case they are eyeing up a tilt at promotion this season.

“I think this season has been the first time the club has not got through to the first round proper in about four years,” said Baines.

“The thing is we were not massive disheartened because anybody who watched the games will have seen that we comfortably outplayed Southport.

“They scored a wonder goal from Marcus Carver to win it and then they defended really well.

“So I would say it is a blessing that we are out of the FA Cup. We have now got full focus on the league and hopefully we can challenge for the title but we will definitely be challenging for the play-offs this year 100%.

“We are on a really good run. It’s four wins out of our last five league games and it could easily have been five wins but we conceded a late goal against Bradford.

“We are playing well at the minute and building momentum.

“There is a lot of belief around the squad and we are managing to grind out the results. I thought the 2-0 win was fully deserved against Blyth Spartans last weekend. They had a lot of pointless possession but we just punished them when we had the chance to.

“It’s tough place to go. The ground is small and you can hear the crowd.”

This weekend, the Magpies host Darlington and Baines added: “I’ve never actually played against them but I know that they are a good possession-based team so I think they will be up there as one of the best teams we have played this season. “

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