A blast from the past

editorial image
0
Have your say

FLEETWOOD Town face an unwelcome blast from the past when they host AFC Wimbledon tomorrow.

But home manager Micky Mellon is concentrating on the present, rather than past chastening experiences at the hands of the visitors, in the build-up to the League Two encounter.

The two sides met in entirely different circumstances two seasons back, when they were both battling for promotion out of the Conference at the end of the 2010-11 campaign.

They squared up in the play-off semi-finals and, after Wimbledon won at Highbury 2-0, the Dons prevailed 6-1 in the return leg to give them an 8-1 aggregate win and later a place in the Football League after a play-off final triumph over Luton Town.

Now Fleetwood have joined them in the Football League, with the tables turned – Fleetwood are in the play-off positions and AFC Wimbledon languish at third-bottom.

That heavy reverse in the spring of 2011 proved a defining moment for Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon, as the realisation dawned that the squad then was not good enough to get into the league and needed to be considerably strengthened to launch a realistic 
challenge.

Mellon said: “The squad that season did great, but they probably over-achieved. Now the two squads are unrecognisable from the last time we played each other.

“We have a very good relationship with AFC Wimbledon.

“I got on very well with (former manager) Terry Brown, and that relationship is the same at director level.

“When we won promotion, AFC 
Wimbledon were the first club on the phone to congratulate us, and I spoke to Terry, who gave us a lot of help and 
advice about what we could expect in the Football League.”

Mellon added: “What is most important now is the way we bounce back from losing to Wycombe last Saturday.

“We never passed it quickly enough against Wycombe, and the times when we did get it into the right area, we were not brave or aggressive enough to get on the end of things.”

Fleetwood will be without Shaun 
Beeley (thigh injury), Steve McNulty (calf) and Dean Howell (ankle) for the visit of Wimbledon.

Of the three, only Howell has a realistic chance of making it for the trip to Chesterfield on Tuesday night.

Wimbledon have a new manager, Neil Ardley, a member of the club’s Crazy Gang, which earned fame, and no little notoriety, in its heyday.

Indeed, Dave Bassett, who used to be in charge at Wimbledon, assisted in the recruitment of Ardley. He pinpointed him as the best choice to take over the post following the sacking of Terry Brown, who was instrumental in their rise up the leagues, but who paid the price for their dismal start to the season, which saw them lose six out of seven matches that produced a solitary point.

Ardley made almost 250 appearances for Wimbledon between 1991 and 2002, his assistant is former Aston Villa, 
Middlesbrough and Watford full-back Neil Cox.

Wimbledon won two matches under caretaker boss Simon Bassey in his four matches in charge – Wimbledon lost the other two – but it was not enough to get the job on a permanent basis.

Ultimately, the club decided to go for Ardley, formerly academy manager with Cardiff.

In Ardley’s first match in charge, Wimbledon lost 2-1 at home to 
Cheltenham.

Ardley harbours high hopes of his striker Byron Harrison, and has pinpointed him as a key figure in the Dons’ bid to climb up the table.

He has scored in each of the last three matches.

Ardley said of Harrison: “We will work to make him better, to improve his game and his 
awareness.

“Hopefully, he can get us the goals that we need during the rest of the season.”

Wimbledon’s Luke Moore was part of the Wimbledon squad that trashed Fleetwood in those Conference semi-final matches.

He recalled: “We managed to go up there and win 2-0 in the play-offs, and to get the first goal in the second leg after 30 seconds really settled the nerves.

“We went on and battered them in the end. It will be tough on Saturday, though. They have a lot of money behind them, and good backing from their 
supporters.”