Boss hails industrious defence
Graham Alexander praised his defenders after they remained resilient in Fleetwood’s victory away at Hartlepool United.
Fleetwood ran out 1-0 winners at Victoria Park thanks to a first half goal from midfielder Jeff Hughes as Town put last weeks defeat at home to Burton Albion behind them at the first attempt.
Alexander admitted Fleetwood lacked composure on the ball for periods of the game, but was left delighted by his side’s resilience as they kept Hartlepool at bay to keep a clean sheet.
Alexander told Cod Army Player: “It was an extremely hard three points, but it was three points nonetheless. That’s what we came to get and we gave the supporters another good result to thank them for their great support today.
“Even though we have created chances and could have scored more, we know we’ve not played as confidently on the ball as we would have liked.
“We are always looking to improve all the time and we know that coming to a place like Hartlepool is tough a game for us and to win 1-0 and to win ugly is great.”
Nathan Pond replaced Ryan Cresswell at the heart of defence to make his first start of the season and the Fleetwood stalwart crucially headed an effort off the line whilst Scott Davies pulled off a number of saves to deny the hosts and Alexander believes his defenders deserve the plaudits following the victory.
“That’s what they are there for. We train all week and we expect that sort of intensity in their play in training. You can’t just turn it on on a Saturday; you have to do it week in, week out and the lads do to be fair and they had to do it today.
“We are going to get games like against Plymouth the other week where they didn’t have to do that and the forwards get the plaudits but I think today the defenders put their bodies on the line and we had to do that to keep a clean sheet.”
Jeff Hughes scored his third goal of the season in the 16th minute to give Town the victory and Alexander insisted he wants his players to play with a bit more creativity, but also admitted he is happy for his team to dig in deep and show an ‘ugly’ side to ensure they come out on top.
“Looking at it as a neutral, it probably came against the run of play. Those goals quieten down a very vocal home crowd, but I still think we didn’t really stamp our authority on the game today and that was disappointing.
“It’s about winning though, it’s about getting results and it’s a double-edged sword. We would like to play better, but what I will say is the players’ mentality to throw their bodies on the line and do the ugly stuff was there for all to see and that will win us points over the course of the season as well as the good football and the skill.
“Bally (David Ball) is the lone central striker but we know without a doubt that Jeff Hughes and Antoni Sarcevic are going to get in the box just as much as Bally.
“They are a great threat and we have got offensive wingers that can get balls into the box as well. We know we are a threat across the pitch and it’s good to have that where it’s not just coming from one player.
“Gareth Evans scored at Notts County, Bally and Jeff Hughes have scored a few and we know there are goals in Junior (Brown) and Ryan (Crowther) and Sarcevic eventually. He definitely owes us one.
He added: “It’s good to come here and it was a very tough game and I thought they were very good today, very potent, but we are happy to go back on the road with three points.”
As well as Nathan Pond making his first start, summer signing Stewart Murdoch came into the team for Steven Schumacher and Alexander was delighted with how the pair performed over the course of the game and said the importance of Fleetwood’s strength in depth is shining through.
“They (Pond and Murdoch) have been chomping at the bit and there were no qualms about putting them in the team. They have been trying to force their way into the team and today they got the opportunity and I thought they took it.
“That is the beauty of having a competitive squad and there’s not one lad in there that hasn’t even played today that isn’t happy. Everyone is happy with the squad, they’re egging each other on, they are supporting each other and that’s great to see and be apart of, but we have got to continue that over the next eight months or so.”
The victory at Hartlepool maintained Town’s good start to the league in which they have won three games out of four and Alexander highlighted the importance of the team’s ability to bounce back after defeat and wants to continue to build a winning feeling around Highbury.
“We got beat against Notts County and the following game we went to Plymouth and picked up a very good result and we have done the same this week.
“It is important that you try and bounce back as soon as you can and get that hard to beat and winning feeling. It is a good start and we are not going to get carried away. There’s along way to go, but it is encouraging that we can play not as good as we can and still pick up results.”