FLEETWOOD Town boss Micky Mellon today spelled out his fear that tomorrow’s trip to Darlington could be a “pointless” game.
After days of uncertainty the fixture got the go-ahead when financially-stricken Darlington got a last-ditch ‘reprieve’ and a £50,000 lifeline to keep them going at least until the end of the month.
But Mellon is concerned that serious doubts linger about the Quakers’ ability to stay alive after that as administrators see if a long-term survival plan is in any way feasible.
Mellon said: “The worry is whether Darlington can finish the season and whether it (tomorrow) is a pointless game.
“I would feel much more secure about the situation if we knew that Darlington were going to finish the season.
“I have an unbelievable amount of sympathy for Darlington. I am a football fan first and foremost, and I want to see a long-established club like that survive.
“If they can’t fulfil their fixtures, then any points we did win against them would not count.
“We have already gone through a situation like that, having the record wiped clean and we don’t want to go through that again.”
Such a situation is a sore point with Fleetwood, for they felt it robbed them of automatic promotion from Conference North two seasons ago.
On that occasion, Farsley Celtic folded and their record from the competition was erased
At the time, Fleetwood’s four-point advantage over second-placed Southport was reduced to just one point
Fleetwood’s 2-0 league double over Farsley was struck from the record, costing them six points, but Lancashire rivals Southport, who had won and lost to the Yorkshire club, only had three taken off.
Fleetwood appealed to the league on that occasion, but without success, Southport eventually going up as champions and Fleetwood having to gain promotion via the play-offs.
As to tomorrow’s action on the pitch, it remains open to speculation what sort of side Darlington will manage to field given that players had been released from their contracts by the club’s administrator.
Caretaker boss Craig Liddle had also been sacked – but he spent the past 36 hours trying to scrape together a side to take on high-flying Fleetwood, who second in the table, two points behind leaders Wrexham. Liddle could even play himself.
Tomorrow’s match is likely to be a highly-charged emotional affair – an appeal has gone round the area to back the team at a time of such strife, while clubs in the North-East have been canvassed for their support, which could mean players being loaned to Darlington.
The confused picture was summed up by Fleetwood assistant boss Craig Madden, who said: “You probably have as much idea as we have as to what sort of side Darlington will put out on Saturday.”
Fleetwood have stressed that they will have to keep such issues and emotions out of their minds at Darlington.
Mellon said: “We have to make sure that we are professional and perform as we have been doing to ensure we get three points.”
The likes of Junior Brown and Gareth Seddon are nursing slight knocks but should be OK.
Defender Rob Atkinson was due to continue his painstaking recovery from a broken ankle in a reserve match against Curzon Ashton last night.
However, he was not under consideration for the trip to Darlington and Tuesday’s visit to Highbury of Braintree is expected to come too soon as well.
Anthony Barry and Paul Linwood remain long-term casualties.
n FLEETWOOD say their acquisitions in the transfer market are likely to have come to an end, long before the transfer window shuts at the end of the month.
However, a couple of players are likely to go out on loan.
Mellon said: “We are haggling about wages at the moment, though it would not be fair to say who the players are.”
The Fleetwood boss stayed in Scotland after this week’s friendly against Motherwell to attend the funeral of his grand-father. Before that, he took in a training session at Celtic.
He had lunch with Bhoys’ manager Neil Lennon but insisted the topic of in-demand Fleetwood striker Jamie Vardy was not raised.
The Hoops are one of a number of clubs on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall who have been linked with Vardy, the list seemingly growing by the day.
Madden says: “Jamie is not letting the speculation affect him. In fact, he’s thriving on it!”