The survival fight starts now for Fleetwood Town. So says skipper Nathan Pond, who is ready to get one over on his former boss tomorrow.
Micky Mellon’s Shrewsbury are Sunday’s visitors to Highbury, with Fleetwood looking to bounce back from their penalty shoot-out defeat by Barnsley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
And Pond, who was packed off on loan by Mellon in Fleetwood’s early days as a Football League club, knows only three points will do against the well-liked Scot’s current club.
“Micky’s coming back,” said Pond, “and we have to make sure our focus is off Thursday and on to this.
“This is the more important one. We need to stay in this league. It starts now.
“There’s a big game now against Shrewsbury, who are just above us.”
Town’s battle has frustrated boss Steven Pressley, who insisted this week his side is the best in the division box to box but frailties in both penalty areas have proved costly, something Pond knows must change.
“We need to defend better and we need to score goals,” said the centre-half.
“We’ve been playing well lately but not getting the points. Right now they’re the most important thing.”
One thing is for certain, Pond would happily swap a Wembley final for League One survival.
“It’s a special day at Wembley, not many players get the chance,” he said.
“I should have scored at the end on Thursday to get the lads there.
“I was disappointed in myself. Now we’ve just got to keep our heads up and focus.
“Three points is more important than going to Wembley. We need to stay in this League.
“Wembley is a one-off final, a great day out for the fans and people, but the bread and butter is more important and that’s League One football.”
And he pointed to Town’s cup conquerors as an example of what a run of victories can achieve.
Barnsley were battling at the bottom with Town two-months ago.
But a run of victories in December and January turned their season around, something Pond believes Fleetwood can achieve if they can become more “streetwise”.
Pond said: “Look at Barnsley – you get five or six on the bounce and where are you?
“They are looking at the play-offs now. They were a team at the bottom.
“We just need to be streetwise about our performances.
“It’s things like conceding in the last minute at Bradford – that could turn out to be an important point (dropped).
“We’ve got to be more ruthless and give less away.”