ANTHONY Barry has spent more minutes on the pitch than any other Fleetwood player this season ... and he’s relishing tomorrow’s 90 more than than any that have gone before as Town face AFC Wimbledon in the opening leg of their play-off semi-final.
“It’s probably the biggest night in the club’s history,” said the midfielder, who had started 44 successive matches until last Saturday’s win at Cambridge, where manager Micky Mellon rested almost all his first-choice XI.
On learning he’d been left out for the final game of the regular season, Barry said: “I gave the gaffer a bit of a funny look because he has taken my record off me, but it’s for the good of the team because all the other leads need a game and everyone else is as important as I am.”
It’s that team spirit which convinces Barry that they can overcome second-placed Wimbledon over two legs to earn a place in the final at Manchester City against Luton or Wrexham, who contest their semi-final first leg tonight.
And the 24-year-old Liverpudlian says Town have the belief to succeed.
“Everyone is itching and ready to go,” he said, “and we have belief more than ever.
“We felt the hardest part would be getting into the play-offs. Now we’re there, we believe we can beat anyone over two legs, and if and when we get to the final we can beat anyone on our day.”
The former Yeovil and Accrington player won’t be taking lightly a Wimbledon side who have taken four points off Town this season, but he added: “The table doesn’t lie and Wimbledon finished second for a reason, but we battered them from start to finish at their place and they scored a lucky goal.
“They won’t be looking forward to playing us. The idea is to keep composure, relax and enjoy it. You have to do what you do best and not let the importance of the game take over.”
Striker Gareth Seddon agrees that Town’s excellent form – they won seven of their last eight league games – make them the team others would rather avoid in the play-offs.
Seddon said: “In a sense there is no pressure on us, as we are not favourites like last year, but we desperately want to get to the final for the chairman and the Cod Army, and we know that there are expectations and hopes.
“I am sure that many neutrals in the game would like to see us succeed.
“Wimbledon are a big, strong team but whoever we met would be difficult opponents.
“Ask any of the other teams, though, and the game that they would have least wanted would have been against us.”
The former Kettering striker has enjoyed an outstanding season, playing a key role with 11 goals, and now hopes the best has been left until last.
Seddon added: “Up to know, everything I hoped for has been achieved.
“The chairman and manager talked about plans and ambitions and they have all happened so far – promotion, full-time status, signing quality players and the new stand.
“Going full-time has been great for me. Last year I had a number of off-field problems, but thankfully my mind is now clear and I am feeling the benefits of regular training.”
INTERVIEWS: David Mitchell