Now we’re fully Free to fo­cus on pro­mo­tion

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE PREVIEWS - By Len Butcher

WHILE Bris­tol City fans look for­ward to a first trip to Wem­b­ley since 2008, Luke Free­man in­sists the play­ers have no such luxury ahead of a cru­cial month of league ac­tion.

City held a 4-2 lead over Gilling­ham go­ing into the sec­ond leg of the Johnstone’s Paint Tro­phy area fi­nal on Thurs­day night.

Striker Matt Smith, who will miss the fi­nal with his loan from Ful­ham un­able to be ex­tended, headed the Robins into a 17thminute lead – adding to his four first-leg goals – and although Gills winger Jer­maine McGlashan equalised be­fore half­time, Steve Cot­ter­ill’s side held on for a 5-3 ag­gre­gate win and a place in the fi­nal against Wal­sall.

Cur­rently em­broiled in a pro­mo­tion battle at the top of League One, they face 11 league matches be­fore that game on March 22, start­ing with Fleet­wood to­day.

Mid­fielder Free­man, 22, said: “It’s def­i­nitely an ex­cit­ing time. I’ve never played at Wem­b­ley but I dreamed of it as a young lad grow­ing up, so I can’t wait.

“It was a dif­fi­cult game against Gilling­ham but we man­aged to get the job done, which is the most im­por­tant thing and we’re through to Wem­b­ley.

“It’s all about the league now and get­ting three points against Fleet­wood.

“We can put the cup com­pe­ti­tions to bed for the mo­ment and look for­ward to the fi­nal when it comes.

“We’ve got a big month com­ing up.”

While Bris­tol City’s pro­mo­tion push was ex­pected, Fleet­wood’s is a lit­tle more sur­pris­ing.

The Cod Army are on the verge of the play-off places af­ter an im­pres­sive run that has seen them lose just one of their last five games.

Mid­fielder An­toni Sarce­vic, 22, said: “For Fleet­wood to be up there in League One shows how far the lads have come.

“Bring on Bris­tol City – we’ll give them a test. I don’t want to rush ahead and say we can do any­thing in terms of where we fin­ish, but we go into ev­ery game con­fi­dent. We’re a tightknit unit and we’ll sur­prise a few peo­ple.”



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