UNTIL last season Burton Albion had never faced Fleetwood Town, despite the two clubs having a long and rich history in non-league.
Over the years they have almost crossed paths but missed each other by a season or two here and there.
The Cod Army were founded as Fleetwood FC in 1908 and spent their first 60 years in the Lancashire Combination.
While Fleetwood were founder members of the Northern League in 1968, Albion were plying their trade often hundreds of miles away in the Southern League.
The Brewers then joined the Northern League for the 1979/80 season – but by this time Fleetwood had folded and reformed as Fleetwood Town FC in the Cheshire League.
And once they worked their way back up to the Northern Premier Division, Albion had moved – from 1987/88 – back to the Southern League, where they would stay until 2001/02.
Then, they had a sole season in the league under Nigel Clough’s management, winning the title at the first attempt and going up to the Conference.
Where were Fleetwood at the time? In the North West Counties after folding and relaunching again!
Eventually, in 2009/10, the Cod Army reached the Conference, by which time Albion were in the Football League.
After just three seasons at the pinnacle of non-league, Fleetwood got into the league for the 2012/13 season.
Finally, the sides would meet – but little did they know they would be heading for SEVEN matches in two seasons.
They met Albion in August 2012, winning 1-0 at the Pirelli in front of 2,349 fans, Burton-born Dean Howell scoring the goal.
When the sides clashed again, it was an afternoon of high drama for the Brewers as they ended a three-month wait for an away win the league with a 4-0 thumping of their Lancashire hosts.
Jacques Maghoma (2), Billy Kee and Calvin Zola were the goalscorers on a blustery afternoon on the coast.
Albion, of course, reached the play-offs, while Fleetwood had to be satisfied with 13th in their debut season.
When the fixtures came out last August, another trip to Fleetwood was Burton’s third match of the season – and it was another memorable one.
They were 3-0 up just after the half-hour with goals from Rene Howe, Adam McGurk and Chris Hussey.
Second-half strikes from Jeff Hughes and Jamille Matt put Albion under pressure, but they held on to take an excellent win.
And the Brewers were back at Highbury Stadium just four months later after being drawn at Fleetwood in the third round of the FA Cup.
A late Hughes goal looked like giving the Cod Army a place in the fourth round until Kee struck in the dying seconds to take the tie to a replay.
Roll on 10 days and it was another tight affair as Kee’s first-half goal knocked Fleetwood out.
The clubs’ final meeting came in January – and it is one Albion fans will want to forget after they went down 4-2 at the Pirelli.
A strange game which was almost called off following a deluge just wouldn’t go Burton’s way after they twice equalised with own goals after David Ball and Nathan Pond had netted for the Cod Army.
Jon Parkin’s late goal and Junior Brown’s effort in injury time made it look like Albion had been well beaten, when in fact it had been a close match.