MICKY Mellon believes Fleetwood Town can make a swift return to winning ways and earn themselves a coveted spot in the FA Cup third round for the second year running.
Town take on Aldershot at Highbury tomorrow and the manager is anxious to put back-to-back defeats – the first for Fleetwood since April, when they were already Conference champions – firmly behind them.
Mellon said: “We were a wee bit sore from losing a game with a minute to go (at Dagenham and Redbridge last Saturday), as you would expect, but everybody has put that behind them and we’re looking forward to a big day in the FA Cup.”
Mellon is only too aware of the prize that awaits Fleetwood should they secure victory in tomorrow’s second-round tie.
A win over Yeovil (after a replay) at this stage last year earned Town a plum tie against Blackpool at Highbury and the Fleetwood boss is hoping for more of the same. He said: “The prize is a big one. This club wants the prize money, just like any other. But it isn’t just that. We love the publicity that comes with a cup run and a big third-round tie.
“The FA Cup has been very kind to us in that respect over the last couple of years, so hopefully we can get there again. Saturday is a big game for us, definitely.”
Town recorded their first home win as a Football League club when Aldershot last visited Highbury in September. Junior Brown scored twice in a 4-1 win as both sides were reduced to 10 men.
But Mellon knows not to take Dean Holdsworth’s side for granted. He said: “You are never going to get two games that are the same. Playing a side that already knows a little about you is always that bit more difficult ... but it’s the same for both teams.
“We’re at home, so we have to go out there and impose ourselves, and try to play the kind of exciting, attractive football we know we are capable of.”
Town, struggling with injuries and illness in the South East last weekend, could be boosted by the return of striker Steven Gillespie, who returned to training yesterday.
He could provide some much-needed support for David Ball, who has been ploughing a lonely furrow up front for the past month, though Alex Titchiner has been recalled from a loan spell at Halifax.
Mellon said: “It’s good to have Steven back. I don’t want to whinge and moan and show a lack of respect to the people who have come in and played their part, but it’s good to have a striker able to come back who is going to add to the threat in front of goal. I’m not sure he’s going to be ready to throw straight in there but I’ll want him kitted up on Saturday and ready to play a part.”
But Mellon will be without the servies of centre-half Youl Mawene, sidelined for a month with a broken foot sustained last weekend.
Ron Atkinson has been recalled from loan at Accrington but is not eligible to play in the FA Cup, having appeared for Stanley in the last round at AFC Fylde.
Mellon insisted he does not face a selection headache at the back for the Shots clash.
“The only issue is that we don’t have Youl,” he insisted.
“But it gives a chance for someone else to come in and show what they are capable of in that position.
“At the moment, I think that if we didn’t have bad luck we wouldn’t have any luck at all.
“But that’s how it is and now someone else has an opportunity.”
Alan Goodall is an option to partner Steve McNulty at centre-half, but Mellon’s main concern is to see his side turning solid performances into victories.
He added: “The last two games have been a disappointment in terms of points, but I’m not so sure the performance on Saturday reflected that.
“If we had been just a little bit more aggressive with the ball coming across, then it could have been a different story.
“We’ve been working hard this week in training, looking at different areas we can improve because we always want to do that.
“We’ll look to try to get back into the winning habit, starting with Aldershot on Saturday.”
Like Town, the Shots won through to the second round with victory over non-league opposition from London.
But they have only won once in six games since beating Hendon, and Town once in five since eliminating Bromley.
Though still second-bottom of League Two, Holdsworth’s side have improved of late and Craig Reid is their top scorer with seven.