Joe will bid to burst Cod Army’s net

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - Neil Mel­lor

WITH League One and Two tak­ing cen­tre stage this week­end be­cause of the in­ter­na­tional break, I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to cov­er­ing Pre­ston’s visit to Fleet­wood Town for Sky Sports this af­ter­noon. It’s the first time they’ll have met at High­bury in the Foot­ball League and could well be the start of a new ri­valry.

As a for­mer Pre­ston player, our ri­vals were Black­pool and Burn­ley. We used to play Fleet­wood in pre-sea­son. That shows you how far they’ve come.

You’ve got to give ev­ery­one at Fleet­wood huge credit – they’ve had an in­cred­i­ble rise over the last ten years. They would need some­thing spe­cial to get in the play-offs this time around, but they’ve done bril­liantly to even be within touch­ing dis­tance.

Leader

I had two spells along­side cur­rent Fleet­wood boss Gra­ham Alexander at Pre­ston – and he’s a great leader.

Per­haps it wasn’t clear when I was there the first time that he was go­ing to go into man­age­ment, but sec­ond time around it was pretty ob­vi­ous. It was later on in his ca­reer and he was do­ing a bit of coach­ing.

I’m de­lighted to see him do­ing so well in man­age­ment and it’s great that he’s al­ready got a pro­mo­tion on his CV. He sets high stan­dards and com­mands re­spect.

He’ll be ex­pect­ing a tough game against Pre­ston and it’s a great op­por­tu­nity for my old club this week­end. With Swin­don and MK Dons not play­ing due to in­ter­na­tional calls, sec­ond-placed Pre­ston can in­crease the gap on their pro­mo­tion ri­vals.

One man who the Cod Army will have to keep a close eye on is Joe Gar­ner, pic­tured right, who hit a hat-trick against them ear­lier this sea­son. A Pre­ston fan, it wasn’t un­til his 18th game that he scored his first goal for the club – but he’s cer­tainly more than made up for that ever since.

His goals could make the dif­fer­ence in the end and, for me, one of his big­gest at­tributes is his abil­ity to find space in the box.

That’s one of the hard­est things to do be­cause you’ve got de­fend­ers whose job it is to stop you – and it’s a lot eas­ier to stop goals than score them. His move­ment is ex­cel­lent and more of­ten than not he will hit the tar­get – and the back of the net.

We’re into the crunch part of the sea­son now and as a player you want to be go­ing into th­ese games with some­thing to fight for.

From the first day of pre-sea­son you’ve grafted to put your­self in a po­si­tion to achieve some­thing and this is what it comes down to. This is when you can seize your re­ward for the ef­fort you’ve put in.

At least Pre­ston and Fleet­wood are look­ing up­wards. No one wants to be down near the bot­tom of the ta­ble at this stage.

I re­mem­ber one sea­son at Pre­ston when we were bot­tom on New Year’s Day, but stayed up with two or three games to spare.

At that end of the ta­ble, it’s more of a feel­ing of re­lief than suc­cess.We didn’t have a cel­e­bra­tion, but there was a feel­ing that we’d worked hard for that.

You want to look af­ter your own re­sults and make sure you’ve got no re­grets when the fi­nal whis­tle blows.

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