GEORGE Donnelly will be going all out to make it third time lucky in Fleetwood Town’s match of the season so far at Highbury tonight.
The striker has been denied by the crossbar in both matches since becoming Town’s record signing from Plymouth, and he would love nothing more than to crown his home debut with his first goal for the club against league leaders AFC Wimbledon.
“It would be nice to get my first goal against Wimbledon. I’m looking forward to it and raring to go now,” said the 23-year-old who had been on fine scoring form on loan at Stockport before switching to non-league.
But regardless of Donnelly’s personal contribution, he knows Town have every chance of toppling the top dogs if they can reproduce their form from last Tuesday’s 5-2 demolition of Mansfield.
“We just need to do what we did in the last game,” he added. “We’ve got a very good side, good at passing and the type of side I like to play in. “The signs are very positive. They seem a good bunch of lads and it’s nice to be in a team you can settle into really quickly.”
Though Donnelly looks a certain starter alongside Field Mill hat-trick hero Magno Vieira, manager Micky Mellon will have decisions to make, with Junior Brown, Jamie Mullen and Nathan Pond all available after injury.
However, centre-half Paul Linwood undergoes a knee operation today, while Jamie Milligan’s troublesome knee problem makes him doubtful. “We’ll just have to see with Mill, but he won’t be rushed,” says the manager.
Whoever he selects, Mellon is convinced his team will be up for the challenge.
“If you can’t get excited about playing the leaders at home under floodlights, you really should not be in the game,” he said. “These are two of the better teams in the Blue Square Bet Premier and we are looking forward to what should be a cracker. It was good to blow the cobwebs away from the weekend in training on Monday and prepare for a massive game. We try to win every game and this one is no different.”
But Mellon won’t accept that Town’s prospects of victory have been improved by Wimbledon’s modest recent record.
Their lead has been cut to a single point by three successive draws, the last two of them goalless against Darlington and Luton, and their latest match saw them dumped out of the FA Trophy by Woking on Saturday.
“At this moment they are the best team in non-league because that’s what the table says,” added Mellon, “but we have the chance to go up against them and see how far we have come as a team.
“Nothing will be won or lost in this game, but the players have got us into this position and have earned the opportunity to play in this giant match.”
Tonight’s game may decide nothing but Wimbledon boss Terry Brown nonetheless described it as “vital”.
Brown said: “We are still disappointed (about the 3-2 Woking defeat) but it is important that the players bounce back with a positive result against Fleetwood Town, one of the favourites to end the season in a play-off position.
“This will be a vital game in our efforts to reach 80 points as soon as possible. We presently have 50 from 25 games. If we maintain that average of two points per game it should be more than adequate to secure a play-off spot.”
n Town striker Nick Rogan yesterday completed his loan move to Workington in the Blue Square Bet North.
Mellon explained: “Rogs needs to go and play some football, and George Donnelly coming in maybe puts him a bit further down the line.
“I’m sure he will do well at Workington and score some goals. We can call him back after 28 days if we need to, so we’ve covered ourselves.”
Interviews: DAVID MITCHELL