FLEETWOOD Town complete a gruelling series of away matches at York City tonight, with manager Micky Mellon hoping they can finally overcome their toughest opponents ... themselves.
Town’s run of four successive Blue Square Bet Premier away fixtures started with defeat at second-bottom Histon, followed by vastly improved performances against fellow high-flyers AFC Wimbledon (despite a 1-0 defeat) and Luton, where Mellon’s men clinched a 3-1 victory which the manager acclaimed as one of the club’s proudest moments ever.
Ahead of the 7.45pm kick-off at Bootham Crescent, Mellon warned: “We know we are our own worst enemies and our own toughest opponents at times.
“We blow hot and cold and we will try to get a team on the pitch to show some consistency. It’s another tough game against a former Football League team, coming at the back end of a really tough period of away games. York will be another big challenge, but we know that if we get our own game right we can give them a really hard match.”
Town will give midfielder Jamie McGuire and striker Gareth Seddon until the last minute to prove their fitness after both were forced off at Kenilworth Road on Saturday. In-form striker Seddon netted twice at Luton and was on target when Town defeated York 2-1 at Highbury back in August.
If Seddon’s calf injury fails to clear in time, it would clear the way for record signing George Donnelly to return to the side and bid to break his scoring duck.
Nobody who saw McGuire exit the field via stretcher on Saturday would have given him a chance of featuring tonight, but Mellon won’t rule him out.
The manager (above) added: “Jamie has ripped his tights but we’ll get him a new pair. He has taken quite a nasty knock on the back of his Achilles but wild horses would have to drag him away from selection.”
Sean Gregan is again set to captain the side and develop his partnership with fellow loan star Will Haining at the heart of defence – the duo are keeping club captain Steve McNulty out of the team at present.
It’s a strange role reversal for Gregan, who was used to being captained by Haining at Oldham. The former ex-Preston skipper takes captaincy in his stride. Gregan said: “I’m no different with the armband or without it. I’m quite vocal and I’ve played a lot of games.
“York have been on good run but our lads should have lots of confidence after Luton and hopefully we’ll pick up more points. Luton are a big club with a big crowd and not many teams will win there but we thoroughly deserved it.
“We were unlucky not to take anything from Wimbledon the week before, so we have shown we can match the top clubs and hopefully we can finish season well. Will and I have played together at Oldham and it’s good to be alongside him again.
“He has done well here and I’m enjoying my football too. I was sat in the reserves at Oldham, which is no good at my age, and they are a good set of lads at Fleetwood.”
The early-season home win over York left Town fifth in the table, a position they still occupy with 13 games to go after tonight’s. And Gregan believes that holding on to the last play-off berth is a realistic goal.
“This club only went full-time last summer and has come a long, long way,” he added. “We are up against some big clubs with big budgets, but we have enough quality to get in there.”
York still fancy their chances of breaking into the play-off shake-up, even though they are only just in the top half of the table at present. The Minstermen trail Town by ten points but have three games in hand.
They lost by the only goal at Wimbledon on Saturday, just as Town had seven days earlier, and manager Gary Mills said: “Our season is very much alive and kicking. If our performance level stays the same as it has been for the past two games, we are going to be winning matches.”
This is Town’s first ever fixture at Bootham Crescent, though they did visit at the start of the year. Tonight’s rearranged match was frozen off on January 3, but not before Town and their supporters had arrived at the ground.
Mellon recalled: “The pitch was solid but I understand why they tried to give it as much time as possible. They had not had a home game for a while and finances at this level are very tough. You need games to pay wages.
“We understood that but we felt sorry for our fans who travelled over there. We would have liked York to make some sort of gesture tonight but I don’t think anything has been done.
“I’m just glad our fans had a day they will remember for a very long time on Saturday, and I’m sure they had great trip home from Luton.”
Interviews: NATALIA BRADFORD