MICKY Mellon is convinced his Fleetwood Town side play the best football in the Blue Square Bet Premier and he wants them to turn on the style at Kettering tonight.
Town have lost only one of their last 11 games in the league but have drawn seven of their last nine at Highbury.
That has led to frustration for players and fans alike, but Mellon insists his men should have nothing but pride in their performances.
Town remain in the play-off zone and would reclaim fourth spot with victory over a Poppies side who have won only twice at home all season, though they did defeat Eastbourne 3-0 at Elgood Arena on Saturday.
Mellon said: “I don’t see anyone else in this division play the way we do. They can be very proud and I’m happy with the way this team is evolving. We have played some terrific football against teams with far more experience (at this level or higher).
“We are pleased to be up there and it will take a lot of hard work to stay there, but some of the football my lads have played and the chances we are creating have been a breath of fresh air. I’d like anyone to argue otherwise.
“We are disappointed to drop points – that’s the way it has to be – but people have to see the bigger picture. To be fifth is a great tribute to the players but we need everyone to stay positive behind us.”
Midfielder Anthony Barry says that Town’s footballing reputation has prompted visiting sides to shut up shop at Highbury, which is why he is happy to be on the road tonight.
Barry said: “The lads look forward to playing away. At Highbury teams sit back and try to frustrate us because we’ve earned a lot of respect. We think we can beat everyone in their own back yard.”
And he echoed his manager by adding: “I don’t think there’s a better team out there than us but we are just getting too many draws.
“It’s becoming the story of our season but we are still in a play-off position. If we could have turned three or four of our draws into wins we’d be top and no-one can argue we belong there.”
An injury to Shaun Beeley saw Barry fill in at right-back for part of Saturday’s draw with Hayes and Yeading.
Beeley is a doubt tonight and Mellon warned there could be other absentees, besides the suspended Nathan Pond. “Shaun is sore and we will monitor it right up to kick-off. I don’t like to talk too much about who is available but a few who might have struggled to start if the game had been on Monday.
“They have another 24 hours but I have a very strong squad and there could be opportunities for some of them to show they can play the Fleetwood way.”
Barry would sooner not be pressed into service as a full-back again, adding: “I played there a few times last season. It’s not my favourite position but if the gaffer asks you to play there you just do it. But we kept a clean sheet while I was there, so I’ll take the praise for that!”
Kettering’s poor home record certainly won’t tempt Mellon to take them lightly. He added: “Every player in this division is a Conference Premier player, so you can’t go anywhere thinking it’s going to be any easier just because they only have 200 watching.”
Interviews: DAVID MITCHELL