PETER Cavanagh is full of confidence that Fleetwood Town will follow the trail blazed by Stevenage and Crawley in the past two years and take League Two by storm following promotion as non-league champions.
The Town midfielder has navigated the route between the divisions before, having captained Accrington Stanley to a Conference title in 2006, and he believes there is little to choose between the Football League’s basement level and the division below.
The 31-year-old said: “I really don’t think there’s much difference regarding player quality, and the current Fleetwood team would cope quite admirably.
“There are strong similarities between this squad and the Accrington side of six years ago. Both contained great sets of lads (his Town team-mates Anthony Barry and Andy Mangan were in the same Stanley squad).
“Accrington didn’t have the financial clout but managed to punch above their weight. The most disappointing thing was that Accrington weren’t in the position to withstand bids for the players who moved on and that really knocked us. But Fleetwood are ambitious and won’t have that problem.”
Liverpudlian Cavanagh, who spent the best part of a decade at Stanley, recalled other similarites between his promotion campaign there and the season which ends at home to Luton on Saturday.
“I remember all but securing the title with Accrington when we won at York and (nearest challengers) Hereford lost. This season, we won at York the day after Wrexham had lost and that went a long way to securing the title.”
Another similarity to 2005-6 is that the final weeks of Cavanagh’s season have been beset by injury, though he is anxious to be back on the park on Saturday to help a side in which he has been so influential in the second half of the season.
Cavanagh picked up a calf injury at York and missed the draw with Wrexham which edged Town closer to the crown.
He added: “I managed to get back on for Lincoln but I’m still feeling it. With the league already won, I decided not to risk it at Cambridge. At the moment I’m 50-50.
“I’m desperate to be involved, but I’d never jeopardise the team or keep a team-mate out of the side by saying I’m ready to play when I’m not.”
Fit or not, Cavanagh will be at Highbury on Saturday to savour the moment when the team receive their champions’ trophy.
His celebrations were more muted in 2006, a season overshadowed for Cavanagh personally by the death of his brother, Anthony.
“Whether I’m in the team or not I’ll be there to cheer the lads on. I’m really looking forward to Saturday and hope I can celebrate a bit more this time because that was an emotional end to the season for me at Accrington.”
After Saturday, Cavanagh hopes to discuss a contract for next season. “I don’t know yet,” he says. “Talks are planned and we’ll see.”
Whatever happens, Cavanagh can reflect on a fine campaign which saw him named Conference player of the month for March.
He recalled: “I fancied myself for a good season, but I missed three months with injury and had to wait a while. But since I got my chance at Yeovil in the FA Cup I’ve managed to stay in.”
>> FLEETWOOD striker Magno Vieira has been in talks with Conference club Forest Green with a view to a summer move. Town’s top scorer last season, the Brazilian has been unable to command a place in Micky Mellon’s side this time round.
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