MICKY MELLON has prepared the side meticulously in the run-up to tonight’s clash with Wimbledon – and even though two unnamed players have gone down with a virus, he refuses to be side-tracked in confronting the challenge that lies ahead.
The Fleetwood manager said: “It seems so long since we qualified for the play-offs – it has dragged on long enough and we just want to get on with it.
“The players are looking forward to the big occasion – these are the nights you are in football for.
“I keep stressing to them that they don’t want this occasion to pass them by – they should enjoy it and do the best they can.”
AFC Wimbledon, runners-up in the Blue Square Bet Premier, finished 12 points clear of fifth-placed Fleetwood in the final standings, but Mellon reckons that counts for nothing and the play-off semi-finals present an entirely different set of circumstances.
“This is not league football any more. This is cup-tie football over two legs and a massively different thing.
“The next best four clubs behind champions Crawley will have a head-to-head, and whoever comes up out of that will grab that final place.
“What you have done before has gone by the wayside.
“Now it’s all about getting to Eastlands, and who holds their nerve will get that place in League Two.”
It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season.
The Dons won away 1-0, while the Highbury fixture ended in a 1-1 draw, though Fleetwood had opportunities to win.
Mellon said: “Over the two matches against Wimbledon, we know that we did more than enough to get something out of both games.
“We felt we pinned them back for long periods here and, fair play, they produced some desperate, last-ditch defending to keep us out.
“We certainly played well and that will be in their minds after both games.”
Mellon said he was unperturbed by the fact that two of his squad (he refused to name them) had gone down with a virus and had been kept apart from the rest of the squad
He added: “If the game had been on Thursday night, they would not have been involved, but that just opens the way up for some other people to gain an opportunity,
“I am hoping the players concerned make a recovery.”