If there’s one man who will have enjoyed Saturday’s victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park more than most it’s defender Nathan Pond.
In his testimonial year at Fleetwood Town, the 28-year-old has seen pretty much every big occasion at Highbury.
But he’d never experienced anything like Saturday’s 1-0 win in front of nearly 16,000 people on the south coast
“I never thought I’d be playing and winning with Fleetwood at Fratton Park,” admitted the centre-half.
“I saw a tweet on Saturday morning which said that when they were winning the FA Cup we were coming out of the UniBond.
“That just shows how much football has changed and how fortunes have changes. It was great to be part of the game down there.”
Pond had an uncertain start to life in the Football League.
Loaned out to Grimsby by former boss Micky Mellon, he was given a second chance by Graham Alexander and hasn’t looked back since.
He’s currently keeping club skipper and experienced League One campaigner Mark Roberts out of the starting line-up.
And he was delighted to be part of the big occasion at Fratton Park.
“This was probably double the second-biggest crowd I’ve played in front of,” said Pond.
“It was a good experience for me, and I’m so glad to get a win and a clean sheet.
“We all knew it was a big occasion, but equally we knew what we had to do on the day.
“We all had jobs to do and we managed to make the most of our opportunities on the day. It’s the biggest club in the league by a long way.
“To come down here and manage to win, we’re delighted with that. We couldn’t have done any more.”
Town boss Graham Alexander has shown faith in his back four of Pond, Ryan Cresswell, Conor McLaughlin and Dean Howell in the last four games.
But Pond knows everyone wearing the shirt on a Saturday has to be at their best to stay in the manager’s favour.
He said: “I thought all the back four and Stephen Schumacher in front of us, especially Schuey, were great
“The lads up front were superb too. We know there are lads on the bench, champing at the bit waiting for their chance, so we have to be on top of our game.
“It keeps us going and it keeps us sharp.”
And, despite having 10 years in a Fleetwood shirt under his belt, Pond knows there will be no sentimentality when it comes to team selection in Town’s quest for promotion.
“It’s not just me, it’s every player,” he said. “Nobody gets special treatment. If you come in and do well, you keep your shirt.
“That’s how football is and that’s how the gaffer runs things here. As soon as your standards drop, you are going to lose your place.”
With four wins from four in September, Fleetwood are looking to round off a perfect month with victory over Exeter City at Highbury on Saturday. And Pond insisted confidence is high, with his team-mates on a mission to make it a perfect five.
He said:“Exeter are a good side. They’ve got off to a good start.
“But our last two home performances have been strong, and hopefully we can keep that going and carry on this run we are on.”