Tough examinations teach Mellon so much

Alan Goodall'Fleetwood Town
Alan Goodall'Fleetwood Town

FLEETWOOD Town manager Micky Mellon would love to register a pre-season victory in front of the Highbury fans tonight, but he admits “I won’t lose a massive amount of sleep” if the losing trend continues.

Mellon has deliberately confronted his promotion-chasing squad with a demanding series of friendly fixtures and has no regrets about doing so.

And following the defeats by Preston, a Manchester United XI and most recently Huddersfield Town, it won’t get much easier in tonight’s 7.30pm kick-off against Latvian tourists FK Jelgava.

Mellon admits to knowing little about the visitors, except that they will give his side another thorough examination – they compete in the Latvian top division, played in the Europa League last season and beat Blackpool last summer – and that’s just what he wants.

Mellon told The Gazette: “These games have been brilliant because I’ve learned more about my team. I like to put myself under pressure and find out what my players can’t do. It’s important to know that before the season starts, as well as what they can do.

“In the past we have won friendlies comfortably and haven’t learned much, but these matches have been so valuable.

“We still have three more pre-season games and these are imporant because the start of the season is on the horizon now (the final friendlies are Saturday games against Oldham at home and Kendal away).

“We had two more good training sessions on Monday. I have most of the squad fit and these games will help me to make the one or two decisions I still have to make about the team to play at Grimsby on August 13, barring injuries.”

A first Town goal of pre-season wouldn’t go amiss in front of the Highbury faithful who have so far seen nine go into the home net.

But Mellon says it’s important to keep a sense of perspective. He added: “We have played a Manchester United side and two League One teams. Huddersfield will probably win League One and Preston will be challenging at the top end too. These games will benefit us when we come back to playing teams at our own level.”

Alan Goodall testified to the quality of the Huddersfield side after his first match as a Fleetwood player on Friday night.

The 29-year-old full-back became Town’s ninth summer signing after Junior Brown’s knee ligament injury left Mellon short of left-sided options.

The defender from the Wirral has accumulated over 200 Football League appearances, most of them with Rochdale, and spent the second half of last season with the Stockport County side that dropped to the Conference.

Goodall said: “I was delighted to be told Fleetwood wanted me. Over the last couple of years this club has been talked about a lot.

“I have played here before the stand went up, and now seeing the new stand and the progress the club has made is brilliant.

“I know a few of the lads and Jamie McGuire comes from round where I live.

“I’d like to think I’ll bring a bit of stablility, strength and organisiation, and hopefully I can help the younger lads to come through and help the team to keep a lot of clean sheets.”

Mellon said: “Alan is is good, experienced Football League player and we will need that because this league is full of former Football League clubs now.

“It seemed a good fit because the unfortunate injury to Junior left us with only two left-footed players in the squad.”

Mellon revealed that midfielder Anthony Barry was understandably feeling a little delicate after his first match following a hernia problem.

The manager said: “Anthony was a bit uncomforable on Monday but he is desperate to play. He is one of the fitter lads, so I’m hopeful he will get fully fit quickly.”

Alan Goodall was talking to DAVID MITCHELL