Town success story...whatever happens next

Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley
Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley

CHAIRMAN Andy Pilley has declared Fleetwood Town’s first season in the Blue Square Bet Premier a success, regardless of what happens over the final nine games.

Pilley believes that only one of the four play-off spots is still available, but even if Town don’t reclaim fifth spot from Kidderminster, the chairman says that targets for Town’s first ever campaign at non-league’s elite level have already been achieved.

But ahead of one of the biggest games of the season at home to new leaders Crawley on Saturday, he remains convinced the club has what it takes to make the play-offs.

Pilley told The Gazette: “A successful season will be one in which we progress from last season and we are already assured of doing that.

“We are committed to getting this club into the Football League and if it happens at the first attempt this season we won’t turn it down, but whatever happens we have made major progress this season.

“We can get into the play-offs, most definitely. I’m confident we have enough in the squad and in the infrastructure of the club to do it.”

That infrastructure includes a magnificent new east stand prepared to League specifications, which is already partially open to spectators on matchdays and is set to be completely opened for the visit of Altrincham on April 16.

If League Two matches are to take place in the shadows of the new stand from August, Town will need more performances like last Saturday’s at Newport County (won 3-1) and fewer like their previous outing at Darlington (lost 4-0). Town’s up-and-down recent form hasn’t surprised Pilley, who doesn’t feel it is the result of pressure.

“We were aware we have a run of difficult games in close proximity but nothing has happened to us in this league that we did not expect,” he continued.

“People have talked about pressure but I don’t feel there is immense pressure on this club. Yes, last season we were desperate to get into the Conference, but this season we are locking horns with famous clubs and enjoying the ride.”

One player perhaps justified in feeling some pressure was record signing George Donnelly, who endured a two-month wait for his first Town goal following his new year move from Plymouth.

The striker broke his duck at Newport and Pilley never feared the club had made a mistake. “We did due diligence on George,” he said. “We studied a lot of scouting reports and were always confident we had an asset on our hands who we may eventually be able to profit on.”

There’s pressure too on Saturday’s visitors Crawley, whose spending far exceeds Town’s.

“Everyone expects them to finish top,” added Pilley. “They have spent an awful lot, but they have been bold and brave and look like getting their reward.”

While Crawley go for top spot, fifth will do very nicely indeed for Town and their chairman.

“Fifth is the only play-off place realistically available and there are numerous clubs chasing it,” Pilley said.

“Only three of our remaining nine fixtures are against teams in the top half, though we are aware we have often done better against the higher teams and we have racked our brains as to why that should be. But there are no bad teams in this league and we’re loving it.”