WEM­B­LEY: CHRIS LOVES IT TO MAX

The Football League Paper - - INSIDE - By Joshua Richards

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.

Des­per­ately

“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.”

Cham­pi­ons

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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

BIG DAY: Maxwell with the FA Tro­phy LIFT-OFF: Chris Maxwell cel­e­brates pro­mo­tion with Fleet­wood

KIT TWEET: David Dunn

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