WEMBLEY: CHRIS LOVES IT TO MAX
HAVING the chance to walk out at Wembley once in a career is something to treasure, but Fleetwood goalkeeper Chris Maxwell is on the verge of playing at the national stadium for the fourth time by the age of 25.
The stopper experienced the joy of victory and the despair of defeat under the arch for former club Wrexham, in the FA Trophy and National League play-off final respectively, and he was involved when Fleetwood reached League One via the play-offs in 2014.
The Cod Army find themselves at the wrong end of the table this term, but their moment in the sun could well come in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, where they have reached the area final and sit level at 1-1 from the first leg away at Barnsley.
When the Tykes visit Highbury Stadium early next month, Maxwell accepts his men will be favourites to make it through to Wembley. And he insists you can never be blasé about such an occasion, even if it would be for the fourth time.
“It’s a fantastic occasion to play at Wembley once, never mind four times. You don’t take these things for granted,” he said.
“It’s the best place to win a game of football and the worst place to lose. But I don’t allow myself to look ahead to the end of it. It doesn’t matter about the occasion, it’s about what goes on between the white lines. It’s just another game.
“I desperately want to win the area final, but that’s been the same since I was able to walk. I always want to win, and getting to Wembley is certainly in the back of all the lads’ minds.
“The first leg was a great advert for the tournament. It was a difficult game on a poor pitch – not helped by the weather, which was not great for the fast- flowing football we like to play, but both sides stuck to their task.
“With the second leg in front of our own crowd, we just have the edge. We have to be favourites, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be taking them lightly.
“Our coaches are very knowledgeable and they make sure we don’t slack off for any training session, let alone games.”
Maxwell has become a mainstay of the Fleetwood team, making his 114th consecutive appearance for the club at Colchester in midweek.
It’s quite the turn of fate when you consider his debut for the Cod Army came 18 months after his switch from Wrexham.
“When I signed for Fleetwood from Wrexham, they had just gone up from the Conference as champions, while Wrexham finished second but lost in the play-off final,” Maxwell explained.
“It was great for me to sign for a League club and then I knew I had to be patient and wait for my break in the team. “Two loan spells [at Wrexham and Cambridge United] and two Wembley appearances later, I got my chance. “Then, it was up to me to stay in the team and to perform in every game. “It’s been a crazy time. Playing over 100 games has crept up on me. “I have really enjoyed my time at Fleetwood, especially having the chance to experience a promotion. “I’ve improved a lot under Gary Alexander and now Steven Pressley. Then, our goalkeeping coach Dave Lucas has been there throughout. “They have influenced me as a person as much as a player.”
BIG DAY: Maxwell with the FA Trophy LIFT-OFF: Chris Maxwell celebrates promotion with Fleetwood
KIT TWEET: David Dunn