FLEETWOOD Town take on Wycombe Wanderers at Highbury tomorrow, in a fixture that perfectly underlines the home side’s rise to League Two prominence.
The two clubs met in the first round of the FA Cup as recently as last November, when, despite being reduced to 10 men with the sending-off of Richard Brodie, the Cod Army won 2-0 at a time when Wycombe were a League One side and Town were still in the Conference.
Now they are competing at the same level in League Two, and there are 19 places between them in the table, with Fleetwood lying in third going into tomorrow’s clash and Wanderers struggling near the bottom.
Fleetwood manager Micky Mellon said: “It just shows how far this club has come.
“But I am living in the here-and-now, not the past or the future.
“All I know is that Wycombe are a good club – they have won their last two matches and, obviously, they are playing for their manager.”
The man currently holding that post in a caretaker capacity is former Preston North End and Queens Park Rangers winger Gareth Ainsworth.
Wycombe have had a struggle since they were relegated last season and, after an indifferent sequence of results, they parted company with boss Gary Waddock.
Ainsworth then assumed the role of caretaker and is pressing his claim for a full-time appointment.
The 39-year-old Ainsworth is one of the game’s larger-than-life footballers – away from soccer, he plays in a rock band.
The Chairboys, third from bottom of the table, are likely to include Portuguese-born winger Bruno Andrade, who was signed recently on loan from Queens Park Rangers.
Wycombe got a much-needed morale-booster earlier in the week when they beat Portsmouth in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, winning 3-1 with Andrade making a big impression at the start of his month’s loan.
Fleetwood will give a debut to central defender Rob Edwards, who was signed on loan from Barnsley to solve a problem at the heart of Fleetwood’s defence caused by injury to skipper Stephen McNulty, and the decision by Blackpool’s Ashley Eastham not to prolong his loan stay at Highbury.
McNulty has been sidelined with a calf injury, with Mellon unwilling to put any time scale as yet as to how long it will keep him out of action.
The Town boss said: “McNulty is a big loss to us because since we have come into the Football League, then he has really stepped up to the plate.
“But we have signed a Championship player in Rob Edwards on loan.”