Fleetwood’s Hughes ‘welcomed’ to professional game

Matty Hughes on his Fleetwood debut    Picture: DERICK THOMAS
Matty Hughes on his Fleetwood debut Picture: DERICK THOMAS

As moments go to make your professional football debut - Matty Hughes couldn’t have picked a better one.

Fifteen minutes to go in a tense cup showdown, the dream of Wembley still alive, but only just.

Just the sort of thing a confident 19-year-old, like Fleetwood Town’s newly acquired pocket rocket, might take in their stride.

And what a mark he made - skinning the chairman of the PFA (Ritchie Humphries) in his first 30 seconds on the field, tumbling for a penalty shout within a few minutes - and booked to boot.

All in a day’s work to Hughes, who summed up the game in just five words.

“We won, but we didn’t,” he said.

“We didn’t get that last goal, we didn’t take it to penalties and that takes the shine off.”

But it was an incredible night for a first taste of life in the big time, Hughes running out in front of more than 6,000 at the ProAct Stadium

“It was a brilliant atmosphere,” he said.

“There were a few of our fans as well but they did outnumber us. It was a tremendous thing to come into.”

And it’s given the youngster a predictable appetite for more.

The Wigan-born frontman said: “I’m raring to go again now. That’s given me the taste for it.

“It’s a lot more fast paced.

“I had a couple of touches which said ‘welcome to professional football’ but you’ve got to expect that.

“I took part in the goal, I can’t ask for more.”

That goal put Fleetwood within touching distance of a penalty shoot-out, Hughes scrapping down the right to keep hold of the ball and picking his moment to fire the ball into the box.

“I just looked up and saw Jamille Matt in a good position,” he said. “It was a good move and a great finish from Jon.”

Town had, by that point, gone for broke, but Hughes believes it is a strategy which would have paid off as Chesterfield wilted under pressure

“I don’t think I’ve ever played with four strikers on a field on the same side,” he joked.

“But we got that goal and had we had five more minutes more we might have done it, we might have taken it to penalties.

“I think we would have done. It was a tremendous performance.

“We had a bit of a bad spell first half but overall it was fantastic. I’m just gutted we got the win but aren’t going to Wembley.”

As for that penalty and a first booking in the professional game, Hughes insists he plays fair.

He said: “The one thing about me is that I don’t dive.

“I was devastated when I went down. I thought he’d caught the back of my leg. I had a mark on my sock and I was clean at that point.

“I showed the linesman - he showed no interest.”

Town return to League Two action against Mansfield Town at Field Mill on Saturday.