Craig Fleming: Lowestoft Town will relish big occasion of play-off final
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Forget joking with team-mates, keeping clean sheets or scoring goals – for Craig Fleming, this afternoon's play-off final represents what he misses about being a player.
The Trawlerboys tackle their third Ryman League Premier Division promotion decider in as many years today – but for the first time, it will be on home turf.
That should make for a pretty special occasion at Crown Meadow, one the Town director of football feels his entire squad should relish.
'We should be tremendously looking forward to this,' said Fleming. 'This is why you get involved in football in the first place. I would have thought there would be a cracking crowd in here, big game and with that a lot more nerves and adrenaline. It's the one thing I miss about playing – massively.
'You speak to a lot of old pros about missing the banter and all that. No chance. I miss that feeling, that adrenaline rush, that getting out there – and the lads have got it again for the final. It's fantastic for them.'
Concord Rangers, who finished fourth in the Premier Division, surprised third-placed Wealdstone on the road win an extra-time victory to book their appearance at Lowestoft.
The hosts will be favourites to finish the job, but will need to play better than the late 1-0 semi-final win against a lively East Thurrock United on Wednesday.
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However while there felt like only a lot to lose in midweek, this afternoon Lowestoft Town have everything to win.
'There was a little bit of that on Wednesday – both sides felt it I think, and the other semi was tight too,' said Fleming.
'When you know what's at stake and you are so desperate to be in the final, there probably is a fear of losing rather than a wanting to go out and win. But I thought we were tremendous. When you look at the last three weeks now, the lads have been on a Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday run for three weeks. They work in between that, and the geography of our place means we travel an incredible amount of miles to get to away games.
'Physically, mentally it's so draining. Anyone who has played football at any level can appreciate that. I remember playing Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday every now and again, and feeling so physically and mentally drained.
'And these guys have been doing double that for three weeks, and working for a living as well. Honestly, they should be so proud. I am, totally.'
Fleming added: 'It's huge that we don't have to travel and it's the big joy of finishing second, but to be honest it's only a slight advantage. They will be desperate to turn us over on our home turf and we've just got to make sure we do the same as we did on Wednesday night.'