Micky Mellon reckons his Fleetwood Town squad’s three days in Scotland this week could be a huge boost in their bid for Conference title glory.
Town took advantage of their break between fixtures to head north to Glasgow on Sunday, and the training camp culminated in a 3-3 draw with Motherwell in a behind closed doors friendly at Fir Park yesterday afternoon.
Two Gareth Seddon goals left Town 2-0 up at half-time, but even though the Scottish Premier League side hit back in the second half Mellon was delighted with his team.
He said: “It was an excellent run-out and we are delighted to have come through the 90 minutes using all the squad, so it was a real worthwhile exercise.
“They are fourth in the SPL and I thought we were superb, especially in the first half.
“We made a lot of changes for the second half and that knocks your rhythm, as people will know from watching pre-season games, but that match will do us a lot of good in the coming weeks.
“We knew we needed a game and we knew we’d get one by coming to Scotland because all the SPL sides have undersoil heating, so it was good to get the 90 minutes under our belt.”
Besides giving his entire squad a run-out, including a first game in three months for centre-half Rob Atkinson after his broke ankle, Mellon said the venture north could prove highly significant to the business end of the season.
The manager added: “Team spirit is going to be huge in the second half of the season and we will need each other. We have gone through different team-bonding exercises and they should stand us in good stead.”
Town started with a very strong line-up and a 4-3-3 formation against Stuart McCall’s side.
Seddon opened the scoring with a sliderule finish to the left of the keeper and then drove his second in off the underside of the bar.
The attacking trio of Seddon, Jamie Vardy and Andy Mangan continued to trouble the Motherwell defence.
The Fleetwood defence kept their hosts at bay until half-time, though Scott Davies had to be alert when Robert McHugh went one-on-one with the keeper.
Davies made way for Dave Stevenson in the second half as both sides made wholesale changes and Motherwell’s fightback began.
They pulled level only for Richard Brodie to make it 3-2 with a shot from a tight angle.
And although the hosts pulled level again, a satisfied Mellon summed up: “It was a very worthwhile exercise considering we have not had a game since the Barrow victory a week ago.”
Unlike Town, their Blue Square Bet Premier title rivals Wrexham did not manage a game yesterday as their FA Cup third round replay with Brighton was frozen off. The teams will try again tonight.
Town are unbeaten in 12 league games but Wrexham have matched them to keep their noses in front in the title race, though whether that continues depends on how the teams handle the pressure which will soon intensify.
Mellon explained: “Experienced people in football will tell you we are seven or eight games from the run-in and these games are played under a lot of pressure, so you find out about your group and everyone has everything to play for. That’s what makes it so exciting.”
Fleetwood Town (starting XI v Motherwell): Davies, Beeley, Goodall, McNulty, Pond, Cavanagh, Fowler, Rose, Vardy, Mangan, Seddon
>> Fleetwood should find out today whether Saturday’s match away to crisis club Darlington goes ahead.
The fight is continuing to save the cash-strapped North-East club, which this week terminated the contracts of its players and manager. Hopes that former chairman George Houghton would return to save the club were dashed yesterday as frantic talks continued in a bid to raise cash to keep the club alive.
The club is expected to lose its Conference status unless a rescue package is approved by the league today. Mellon says the governing body should already have intervened to end the uncertainty over Saturday’s fixture.