A look back at our final month of the 2013/14 season
This is what it had all boiled down too. All the months of hard work, nail biting, elation and disappointment. Fleetwood Town’s destiny remained in their own hands.
The automatic promotion race was over. One final game loomed with a trip to the Proact Stadium where, although Town still had a say in the destination of the Sky Bet League 2 title, form and fitness was the Cod Army’s priority.
It was a month that started with Fleetwood having to stand to the side as another sealed not only their promotion, but also the league title. Short term disappointment, long term motivation.
On a glorious Saturday afternoon in the Midlands, Fleetwood made a number of changes to give much-needed game time ahead of their impeding play-off campaign.
A sumptuous finish from Matty Blair after he had exchanged a one-two with Josh Morris and turned away from two defenders had given the Cod Army a well-deserved lead against a tense Chesterfield side.
Two goals in the space of four second half minutes, though, would prove to be the difference. Sam Hird headed in Jay O’Shea’s cross from eight-yards to level the scores before League 2s stand out player, Gary Roberts, curled in a second after 55 minutes.
That would be the end of the scoring as Chesterfield were crowned champions and the message radiating from the dress room was that there would not be a repeat. Fleetwood Town would be the ones lifted the next piece of silverware.
All eyes concerned with Fleetwood turned their attention to the final day scores.
York City’s 2-2 draw away at Scunthorpe United ensured the play-off double header was confirmed. Fleetwood would face a revitalised York, who had taken the fourth tier by storm, over two-legs.
A late heavy downpour in the authentic city meant Fleetwood would wait an extra two days for their first-leg at Bootham Crescent, but it would be the first 90 minutes that would decide this Play-Off Semi-Final.
It was also a former Ministerman that would decide the tie as Matty Blair followed up his goal at Chesterfield by tapping in the only goal of the game against his former side to give Town a slender 1-0 lead to take back to Highbury. York’s 17-game unbeaten run – that started with Fleetwood back at the start of February – was over.
Four days later, in what was almost a repeat of the first-leg, Fleetwood remained resilient in a hard fought contest with the division’s inform side.
Town would remain well-drilled and disciplined at the back as they held out for a 0-0 draw to secure their place in the Play-Off Final at Wembley Stadium to contest the final game of the Football League season on bank holiday Monday.
Celebrations erupted between players, management and officials as the fans spilled out onto the Highbury Stadium pitch. Fleetwood were one game away from playing League 1 football.
Burton Albion’s tight two-legged 3-2 victory over Southend United confirmed the final. Fleetwood and the Brewers would lock horns for the fifth and final time this season.
After missing the semi-final contests, Alan Goodall was restored to the starting line-up for the biggest game of Fleetwood’s history.
Two early chances for David Ball could have settled the nerves in a first half that was just shaded by Graham Alexander’s side, but 0-0 it remained at the interval.
The Cod Army come under heavy pressure from that moment on as Burton tried to exorcise their past play-off demons, but it was Antoni Sarcevic, Town’s top goalscorer, that would have the final say.
A set piece was going to settle the encounter and after being handed a fairly innocuous free kick just inside the Burton half, Fleetwood’s moment had come.
The 22-year-old attacking midfielder swept in a high ball evaded everybody and beat Dean Lyness, who had encroached from his area, and flew into the bottom corner of the net.
It would be the goal that decided the game and meant Fleetwood had secured their sixth promotion in ten years. The celebrations were wild and went on into the remaining week not only on the Fylde Coast, but as far out as Magaluf.
‘We will enjoy the good times ahead’ Graham Alexander the Fleetwood manager, said afterwards. There is certainly a lot to look forward to as the Cod Army wrote another chapter of history.
It will not end there.