AWAIT FOR COD ARMY

Fleet­wood bid for pro­mo­tion num­ber 6

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

FLEET­WOOD Town are on the brink of a sixth pro­mo­tion in ten years af­ter a bat­tling draw with York sealed their place at Wem­b­ley.

A decade ago, the Cod Army were ply­ing their trade in the North West Coun­ties league, watched by a few hun­dred sup­port­ers.

But af­ter a 1-0 win at Bootham Cres­cent in the first leg, a dogged rear­guard ac­tion means the lit­tle club – al­beit with big pock­ets – from the Fylde could be mix­ing it with Sh­effield United next sea­son.

“If you’d told me then where we’d be to­day I would never have be­lieved it,” said Nathan Pond, the in­spi­ra­tional cen­tre-half who has been there ev­ery step of the way.

“Now there’s one game to go to com­plete an in­cred­i­ble jour­ney. Be­cause the tar­get was never just to reach Wem­b­ley. It’s not a day out.We haven’t done our job yet.

“I feel con­fi­dent, of course. I’ve been in this po­si­tion be­fore with Fleet­wood and it’s gen­er­ally gone well. We’ve won plenty of pro­mo­tions and play-offs.

“But with each one, the level gets higher and higher and the ex­pec­ta­tion goes with it. I hope my ex­pe­ri­ence counts at Wem­b­ley but this one feels dif­fer­ent. It’s def­i­nitely big­ger.”

Had Josh Mor­ris aimed his well-struck sec­ond-minute shot a foot lower, nerves might have been set­tled.

In­stead, it was York who ex­hib­ited the greater com­po­sure, their whip­pet breaks and de­ci­sive­ness on the ball in marked con­trast to the home side’s edgi­ness.

“I think we were prob­a­bly try­ing too hard to im­press,” said Alexan­der. “We tried the hard ball first in­stead of the easy one and that caused us prob­lems.”

While Fleet­wood’s at­tacks tended to end in a blind al­ley, the vis­i­tors crafted gen­uine chances. Michael Coul­son should have done bet­ter than thump a shot down Chris Maxwell’s throat, Russ Penn volleyed over and Keith Lowe, up for one of sev­eral cor­ners, forced Maxwell to tip his loop­ing header away.

Alexan­der’s men did fi­nally get go­ing, though, and mid­way through the sec­ond half en­gi­neered the game’s best chance.

Mid­fielder An­toni Sarce­vic has been an in­spi­ra­tion through­out the sea­son but was largely quelled by the fiercely com­pet­i­tive Penn, whose all-ac­tion dis­play re­quired two bouts of treat­ment and left him look­ing like a van­quished boxer.

But Sarce­vic did fi­nally es­cape the for­mer Chel­tenham man’s clutches, jink­ing into the box and un­leash­ing a fierce low drive that York’s on-loan keeper Nick Pope mag­nif­i­cently tipped away.

There­after, nor­mal ser­vice re­sumed and home nerves re­turned, with an in­creas­ingly des­per­ate York side pour­ing for­ward en masse.

Pop logic sug­gests that a side will al­ways fash­ion one big chance. Yet for all their hus­tle and blus­ter, the vis­i­tors never re­ally did. There were goal­mouth scram­bles, a ball across the box that Adam Reed missed by a whisker, a half-hearted penalty claim.

But in truth, Fleet­wood – mar­shalled by the ex­cel­lent Pond – al­ways looked com­fort­able and should have put the game to bed when Mor­ris, on the break, could only lash against Pope.

“There were many half-chances tonight, times when the ball was in and around the box,” said York boss Nigel Worthington. “It didn’t fall to us but, some­times, you have to make that hap­pen. That’s about bet­ter fin­ish­ing, be­ing sharper. But Fleet­wood are a good side, make no mis­take about that.

“I was proud of the play­ers, and of the fans who have done it for us all sea­son. They travel the length and breadth of the coun­try. It’s dis­ap­point­ing at the mo­ment but you have to dust yourself down and – af­ter a hol­i­day – get ready for the new sea­son.”

SALUT­ING THEIR HE­ROES: Fleet­wood fans cel­e­brate on the pitch

“I’m so proud of the play­ers and of the fans. It’s dis­ap­point­ing at the mo­ment but we will dust our­selves down and get ready for next sea­son.” Nigel Worthington, York man­ager

“If you’d told me ten years ago where we’d be to­day I would never have be­lieved this.” Nathan Pond, Fleet­wood de­fender

STAR MAN NATHA

N POND Fleetwo

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