MICKY Mellon is confident that the occasion won’t get the better of his Fleetwood Town side tonight as they try to ensure that the FA Cup tie which the whole of the Fylde coast is desperate to see happens in the new year.
Mellon’s men take to the field at Yeovil tonight knowing that victory in their second-round replay against Yeovil at Huish Park will ensure the ultimate local derby against Blackpool at Highbury.
That draw wasn’t known when Town first faced the Glovers 11 days ago and came back from 2-0 down courtesy of strikes by Kieran Charnock and Jamie Milligan in the last eight minutes, but Mellon is hopeful that pressure to make the match-of-a-lifetime happen won’t affect his players in Somerset.
“We all know what is at stake,” Mellon told The Gazette. “It is a massive match with a huge prize and we all want to see it happen, but we know it’s a big ask to beat a League One side on their own ground.
“Our preparation has been thorough and I have total belief that the team we put out is capable of getting the job done as long as they follow their instructions and perform as well as we know they can.
“The pressure is still on Yeovil. They are the League One side who are expected to win, and they will be keen to have a crack at a Championship club on their own ground as well.”
Shaun Beeley has recovered from a dead leg which prevented him re-emerging for the second half of the first game, leaving Jamie Milligan as Town’s last injury doubt (see back page).
Should Town’s playmaker and dead-ball specialist not recover in time, Keith Briggs is the most likely player to replace him.
Briggs, however, was part of the Town side which was criticised by Mellon after the 3-1 FA Trophy defeat at Northwich Victoria on Saturday.
Only Ryan Crowther and young debutant Liam Wynn were spared the manager’s harsh words as a team consisting primarily of squad players did themselves few favours in their bid to force their way into Mellon’s thinking for tonight.
“They let themselves down and that’s the disappointing thing,” said Mellon. “Of course you have to allow for the fact that that side had never played together before and was selected especially for that game, but they did not do themselves justice and have made my decision-making easy for tonight.”
With most of tonight’s likely starters having had a week and a half to recharge their batteries ahead of tonight’s tie, Mellon is confident his side will be fresh and raring to go.
“We had a good trip down on Monday,” he continued. “We have a hotel on the outskirts of Yeovil and we train Tuesday morning, as we like to do on the day of a big midweek game.
“Our preparation has gone well. There may be a change we have to make if Milli doesn’t make it, but we have planned thoroughly for all scenarios.”
Yeovil were rock-bottom of League One when this draw was made but now have five clubs beneath them thanks to a four-match unbeaten league run, their last two matches having been won 1-0.
Mellon feels their hosts’ improved form, allied to the fact that they are at home, may result in a more positive approach from Yeovil which could work to Town’s advantage.
But the Town boss isn’t convinced the game will be too different from the Highbury tie.
“We’ll it looks set to be another cold and windy night like we had at our place,” added the boss, “so it could be another good old-fashioned English cup-tie.
“We are very excited that the tie is finally here because it seems to have been hanging over us for quite a while. We know how much this means to the people of Fleetwood and we will try our best to deliver for them.”
Like the original tie, tonight’s match will again be broadcast live by ESPN, though The Gazette understands that if Town do win through the Fylde coast derby would not be among the third round’s televised ties.