The big man’s back for huge challenge

Fleetwood Town v Wrexham. Nathan Pond beats Dean Keats.
Fleetwood Town v Wrexham. Nathan Pond beats Dean Keats.

NATHAN Pond’s patience was rewarded with a first start in over four months against Wrexham on Saturday, and Fleetwood Town’s longest-serving player has an extra-special reason for wanting to stay in the side for Saturday’s trip to Hayes and Yeading.

The 26-year-old, whose previous start for Town was in a goalless draw with Gateshead in November, answered Micky Mellon’s call to add physical presence to the midfield against promotion rivals Wrexham, and he justified his selection with a solid display in the priceless 1-0 victory.

Now he hopes to have earned a chance to wipe away the memories of Town’s last clash with Hayes – Pond came on as a late substitute in the Highbury clash but was shown a straight red within minutes as his side were held to a 1-1 draw by their struggling visitors.

That match was two months ago and Pond hadn’t worn a first-team shirt since ... until Saturday.

Now he aims to stay in the side for the seven-match run-in as Town bid to reclaim a place in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off zone.

Pond reckons they might have to win every game but thinks that’s a possibility if Town can maintain Saturday’s standards.

“I’ve been waiting a long time and had to be patient,” he said.

“Last time I came on I was sent off, so it was good to make amends with the win on Saturday. When you get a chance you have to make the most of it.”

Mellon was clear about the role he wanted Pond to fulfil: “We know what to expect from Nathan. We asked him to be physical, and to give us a big presence and scare people to death. He did that and he gives us some height too,” the manager said.

And it was a job well done by Pond, who admits it wasn’t easy.

He added: “I found the pace of the game OK. I did hit a bit of a wall in the last 15 minutes, with it been my first start for a while, but I managed to come through it.

“We didn’t have the tallest of teams out there and it was my job to make a nuisance of myself at set-pieces and in their area.

“I thought we dropped off a bit following the goal and they put us under pressure, but the atmosphere in the dressing room was great after the game and everyone was happy that other results went our way.”

Pond hopes Saturday’s success marks the end of a frustrating period in his career, when even a loan spell could not gain him the game-time he craved.

He was loaned out to Evo-Stik League club Kendal only for the winter deep freeze to keep him inactive.

“Sitting games out has sometimes been difficult and going on loan was a big decision at the time,” he added.

Sitting out the rematch with Hayes is the last thing Pond wants to do on Saturday, when victory could lift Town back into the top five

He said: “Hayes are trying to pull away from the bottom end of the table. They have already proved themselves by taking a point home from Highbury.

“We just need to battle like we did against Wrexham and take home the points.”

n TOWN’S Easter trip to Kidderminster Harriers has been brought forward.

This penultimate away match has been switched from Easter Saturday to Good Friday evening (April 22), with a 7.45pm kick-off. The move is to accommodate a live internet broadcast of the match on Premier Sports Television.

Town then complete their campaign with matches at home to Barrow on Easter Monday and at Cambridge the following Saturday.