MANAGER Micky Mellon insists his Fleetwood Town side’s hopes of promotion to the Football League are still alive despite last night’s comprehensive 2-0 defeat by AFC Wimbledon in the first leg of their play-off semi-final at Highbury.
Wimbledon go into Wednesday’s second leg as overwhelming favourites to contest the Blue Square Bet play-off final at the City of Manchester Stadium, most probably against Luton Town, but Mellon won’t admit it is a foregone conclusion.
The Town boss said: “The next goal is huge. It’s very important that we get the next goal – that will change everything.
“Hopefully I will get a reaction from my players,” added the manager, who felt some of his key players underperformed.
“It was a tight game early on and there wasn’t much between the teams, but then out of nothing we gave a very sloppy goal away.
“It was a kick in the proverbials in terms of when we lost it and how we lost it.
“We felt there had been nothing much in it and that we might have nicked a goal, but we had too many players who never turned up.
“You have to give credit to Wimbledon for the way they played – they did most things right, looked very athletic and passed the ball very quickly. At times we were found wanting.
“We had the chances but probably never did enough to get something out of the game.”
Mellon added: “We never got going and the players know they didn’t do themselves justice on the night.
“But we will dust ourselves off and be as positive as we can to try to get back in it – one goal puts us back in the tie.”
Both Fleetwood goalkeepers were in the wars with head injuries.
Danny Hurst did not come out for the second half after a knock, while his replacement Scott Davies also got hurt. Both should be fit for the second leg.
Mellon said: “Hurst got concussion and was very wobbly at half-time. Davies got a blow to the head as well and needed stitches.”
Wednesday’s second leg at Wimbledon’s Kingsmeadow ground is already a 4,720 sell-out.
Mellon summed up: “There is so much as stake we have to be positive. There is still a long way to go.”
n THERE was disruption to the TV coverage of last night’s match.
Broadcasters Premium TV had blank screens for 25 minutes amid suspicions that equipment outside the ground was interfered with.