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Fleetwood Town manager Graham Alexander focused on Trophy semi-final

4 February 2014

By Tony Leighton

Fleetwood Town supporters of a certain age can recall the club's one and only trip to Wembley, a 1985 FA Vase final that was lost 3-1 to Halesowen Town.

So it's with a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation that those fans are viewing the possibility of a return visit for this year's Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final.

But to turn the possibility into reality Graham Alexander's team must beat Sky Bet League 2 promotion rivals Chesterfield in the semi-final, the first of whose two legs is set for the Cod Army's Highbury Stadium on Tuesday evening.

Manager Alexander, unlike the fans of '85, cannot afford to dream of Wembley but must instead concentrate solely on preparing his team for the semi-final.

But the former Scottish international full-back, who played in Burnley's 2009 Championship Play-Off Final triumph at the re-built national stadium, understands the excitement that's building in and around Fleetwood.

"Wembley has changed since then [1985]," said Alexander, "but it's still got the same magic about it, the same mystique for players and supporters. It's a great occasion for anyone who's part of a club that gets to Wembley.

"But we can't afford to get ahead of ourselves, we've just got to concentrate on this first game against Chesterfield and make sure we're fully focused on that."

If Alexander's players are as focused as they have been in previous rounds of the competition then they should be in with a real chance of reaching the Final.

In the four rounds they have played to date, Fleetwood have on each occasion knocked out League 1 teams, including the 2012 Trophy winners Crewe Alexandra and, in the Area quarter-final, fifth in the table Rotherham United.

Alexander said: "It's a competition we've enjoyed this season and we've acquitted ourselves really well against some tough opposition from the league above us - but we don't think it will be any easier against Chesterfield.

"It will be a tough game between two teams riding high in League 2. They're a very good team, but we know the challenge and we're looking forward to it.

"We've done really well in the big games this season, against League 1 teams and the sides around us at the top end of League 2 - the players relish these games."

The Cod Army's players will be hoping to relish the first leg against the Spireites as they look to bounce back from a shock defeat by York City on Saturday.

A 2-1 home defeat by a team in the bottom half of the table followed a five-match unbeaten run and dropped them out of the automatic promotion places.

Meanwhile, Chesterfield clocked up a third successive victory, 3-1 against Bristol Rovers, to go top of the table and give themselves a timely Trophy boost.

Alexander added: "It was a disappointing Saturday for us, but we didn't deserve to lose - we're still scratching our heads about how it happened. It's no good looking back though, we have to concentrate on this next game.

"Chesterfield have got some very good players and they play in a very good way. We have to be aware of their threat, but we're more than a match for anyone on our day and so we'll have to make sure that we're at our top level."

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