Decision costly - Town boss
Graham Alexander was left aggrieved after Fleetwood fell to a 2-0 defeat away at AFC Wimbledon, saying the game was “taken out of their control.”
Fleetwood went into their clash at Kingsmeadow looking to build on their 1-0 win away at Hartlepool United last weekend, but went into half-time 2-0 down and with a feeling of injustice - despite a positive performance that could have quite easily seen the Cod Army going in at half-time with the lead.
Two goals in three minutes at the end of the first half from Harry Pell and Michael Smith condemned Alexander’s side to a 2-0 defeat as their rotten luck against Wimbledon continued, but Alexander feels that Town had the game taken away from them.
Speaking to www.fleetwoodtownfc.com after the game, Alexander said: “I thought we were the better team to be honest. We had three or four opportunities, two shots scrambled off the line a few minutes before (Wimbledon scored) and then the official decides to get involved and there was no need in my mind.
“It wasn’t a penalty and it has cost us. The lads felt unjust at half-time with those two goals because we knew we were the better team in the first-half, but when it’s taken out of your control and it is not something you have done, it is hard to swallow.
“The rules are that is has to be a deliberate handball, no way was that deliberate. It was lashed at him, it’s just hit him and it would have been interesting to see that decision at the other end.”
If the penalty didn’t knock the stuffing out of Fleetwood, then Wimbledon’s second goal effectively did coming just before the break. George Francomb’s effort took a cruel deflection and fell kindly for Michael Smith to head past Scott Davies from five yards out. A goal that Alexander believes Fleetwood never recovered from.
“It was a deflected shot that spun right up in the air and the lad has got a header from it. I don’t know from how far out, but there was a little bit of luck with how it spun in the air and right into our box.
“It is a kick in the teeth because we played so well in the first half, been comfortable and created our own opportunities. Two goals in three minutes have turned the whole complexion of the game.
“Goals change games, particularly those you have no hand in. They infuriate and sometimes you lose your focus and your concentration of what you were doing.
“We probably didn’t get that back in the second half. We never got back to the football we were playing in the first half and we didn’t create the opportunities.
“It’s disappointing because we feel we have got goals in our team and we can put teams on the back foot as you can see from the first half, but we never responded to the two goals.
“I am gutted for the lads because they did so well in the first half and for it to be taken away from you is a bit of a killer. We have to respond better as a group and rise up to these injustices that will happen over the course of the season.”
Town lost the creative spark of Antoni Sarcevic and Ryan Crowther to injury before the match, but despite their absences, Fleetwood continued to create chances and the Town manager insists he will continue to trust his whole squad over the course of the season.
“We have got a couple of niggles within the squad, but as you could see from the first 40 minutes, we still did enough to be in the lead I felt. We have to have belief in the whole squad and not just in the 11 players, which we have, and we will continue to do that.”
It is a quick turn around now for Fleetwood, who will make the journey to the Wirral to take on League 1 side Tranmere Rovers in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy first round.
Alexander has called on his players to use the game to respond from the set back against Wimbledon at the first attempt and get rid of the ‘sore feeling’ that has been left from their 2-0 defeat.
“We have to respond and it is a game for us straight away. It’s a good one for us because it is three days after this one, because this game has left a bit of a sore feeling inside.
“It’s good for us that we can get on the pitch as quick as possible and get it out of our system. We have got two homes games after that in the league, but we have got Tranmere on Tuesday and we will see who is fit and ready to go on Tuesday.”