Fleetwood Town’s stars might be looking to book a return ticket to Wembley – but for boss Steven Pressley it would be a first.
The Town manager has played for Scotland and on both sides of the Old Firm divide.
But he’s never experienced the home of football – as a player or a manager – something the 42-year-old Scot is keen to remedy with victory over Barnsley in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tomorrow (Thursday) at Highbury.
He said: “Antoni Sarcevic scored a winning goal there and he’s been in very good form. Chris Maxwell has been four times already, which is phenomenal. “The likes of Pondy (Nathan Pond) and Conor (McLaughlin) have great experiences from there.
“We’ve got a squad in which quite a number of players have good memories of Wembley.
“For me as a manager and as a player, I’ve never played there. I’ve been to watch a number of games. I’m envious of those who have managed and played there and I want to experience it.
“These opportunities in a managerial and playing career don’t come up that often. e always think they do but they don’t. When they do come up you’ve got to take advantage.”
Town head into tomorrow night’s Northern Area Final second leg with home advantage. But Barnsley, on the back of six consecutive League One wins, go into the tie as the form team of the division.
Town, however, are the only side to avoid defeat against the Tykes since mid-December – the showdown delicously poised at one apiece after the first leg at Oakwell.
And Pressley believes Town can prevail. “I learned they are a good side but we have nothing to fear,” he said.
“They are on a really good run of form. They are probably the form team of the division but that doesn’t concern me.
“There’s not been a match we’ve played that I haven’t felt we’ve dominated – but we have to win it.
“I don’t want any hard luck stories. I don’t want another really good performance – I want a win. I want to wake up on Friday with the prospect of going to Wembley.”
With Fleetwood struggling in the League One relegation zone and facing a crucial relegation dogfight at home to Shrewsbury on Sunday, Pressley might have been forgiven for putting his cup dreams on hold.
But that holds no dice with a man who is desperate to bring silverware to Highbury.
“I don’t want to turn on Sky come April watching the cup final with us not involved and thinking if only,” he said. “That can’t be the case.
“We’ve got a good opportunity, in front of our home fans, to win a game of football. If we do that we go to Wembley. We can’t let ourselves down.”
Fleetwood will be without new boy Devante Cole, who is cup-tied having already played in this season’s competiton for Bradford .
But Chelsea loanee Alex Kiwomya, who had a spell with Barnsley this time last year, is available for Town.
Pressley has other minor injury concerns following Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Bradford, while the Tykes are sweating on the fitness of top scorer Adam Hammill, having kept hold of him on deadline day.
Tomorrow’s winners will play Oxford United in the final at Wembley on April 3. The League Two side won the Southern Area final 2-1 on aggregate against Millwall.