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Holland diary - day three

19 July 2016

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The squad compete in their first fixture of the tour

It’s not just the UK which has been hit by a heatwave, here in Holland it’s a very similar story.

Our Doorwerth base resembled something like a sauna as the players biked their way to the training pitches at 10am on day three of the pre-season trip.

While for the squad it may seem a nightmare, for Steven Pressley it was just about perfect.

The manager consistently talks about the importance of getting the players into a perfect physical condition and the red hot conditions forces the squad to work that little bit harder.

Luckily the hotel has a pool on site, and each session ends with a dip for the players in an attempt to lower the body temperature and help muscles recover.

Unlike Tuesday, the sessions this morning were actually pretty friendly on the legs, with shape, defending set pieces and finishing the order of the day, with a game against Dutch second tier side Fortuna Sittard to follow later in the evening.

After lunch the squad boarded the coach to Sittard which was around an hour and a half from our training base for the first of three games against very decent Dutch sides.

Tonight it was Fortuna Sittard, the country's oldest professional side, beating Ajax to turn pro by just two months in 1954.

They have themselves a very tidy new 15,000 stadium, but sadly that wasn’t to be the venue for tonight’s game.

Instead we headed five miles down the road to the home of FC Gia, a local non-league side who kindly offered to step-in and host the game.

It was a tidy little set-up, probably comparable to Squires Gate or Wren Rovers on the Fylde coast, although neither of those have the ‘Ultra’ fans who bizarrely set off a bright green flare as the teams came out.

As for Fleetwood, well we travelled with a decent support, around 50 made the trip from the UK, including chairman Andy Pilley, CEO Steve Curwood and Technical Director Gretar Steinsson who flew in earlier that day to cast their eye on proceedings.

One interesting thing about the venue was just how close it was to the border, just 1km (or a Nathan Pond clearance) from Germany.

The game itself was a fast paced, technical affair, with the strong Fortuna side surprising no-one with their technical ability, this was a very tough test.

And with that in mind, Fleetwood’s players take real credit from the game, more than holding their own and even being the better side.

Many inside the stadium felt they should have had a penalty in the very last minute, when David Ball was hauled down in the area, only for the referee to wave claims away.

As we boarded the coach for the journey home, assistant manager Neil McFarlane spotted two supporters waiting at the bus stop and invited them onto the coach - after travelling a thousand miles it’s the least we could do.

We arrived back at the hotel at around 10.45pm before having snacks and heading to bed for an early night.

And won’t it be needed, in a matter of hours we face top flight side AZ Alkmaar.

As for the weather, tomorrow’s forecast for kick-off time is 36 degrees, things are hotting up and on and off the pitch!

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