Town held at home by leaders
Despite failing to pick up all three points against table toppers Oxford United at Highbury on Saturday afternoon, Graham Alexander remained positive and praised his team’s effort.
Steven Schumacher’s exquisite free kick after twelve minutes gave the Cod Army the perfect start in what was an evenly contested Sky Bet League 2 fixture.
However, the experienced Dave Kitson popped up at the back post in the 89th minute to head past Scott Davies, who had earlier saved a Danny Rose penalty, to rescue a point for Chris Wilder’s men.
Alexander said: “You get to that point where you just want to see out the last five or six minutes, but the lads defended so well. I thought we could have invited a little bit more pressure in our final third but decided to protect the lead, and that’s probably due to our two previous results as we’ve conceded a few. We were determined not to concede a goal, but second half we probably didn’t play the football we have been playing and it’s a dagger right at the end. I’ve got nothing but pride for my players though as they did everything they could, but we must marry up the good football that we play with that sort of defensive intent. It’s a disappointing one as they’re top of the league and unbeaten away from home, but you can see why that is”.
The Scotsman tweaked his centre back partnership for the game against United, and brought Mark Roberts into the side at the expense of the ever present Ryan Cresswell: “We’ve got three quality centre backs and I’d probably include Liam Hogan into that category as well, but that will come for him. It’s difficult to pick two of them but I thought it was the right partnership today. I thought Robbo (Mark Roberts) was fantastic, but the whole back four did really well and Scott included, but we just didn’t get our game going in the second half and just sat back a bit and invited a bit of pressure. Their penalty wasn’t a penalty and the lad has won it well for them, but it was a great save from Scott and then you’re thinking it might be your day, but it wasn’t and what I said to the lads after the game was that we should have had three or four of those results already in the games we’ve been beat. We know we should have got some 0-0’s or 1-1’s and if we had have we’d be in a much better position than we are now. We’ll stay positive though as before today we’d won five of our last seven games so there’s no reason for doom and gloom”.
Town were indebted to goalkeeper Scott Davies for large parts of the game as he produced a world class save from Dave Kitson on the hour mark, before denying former Fleetwood man Danny Rose from the penalty spot: “It was a great save from the header and then the penalty was fantastic as well, but there was a couple of opportunities in the first half where we could have done better to extend our lead and then we might not have been under so much pressure. We’ll try and take the positives from conceding at the end and if we take that sort of defensive intent into next week’s game then I think we’re a very good team”.
The Cod Army now turn their attentions to cup competitions, with Burton Albion and Rotherham United travelling to Lancashire in the FA Cup and Johnstone’s Paint Trophy respectively: “We’re just going to concentrate on the Burton game as that’s our next one. It’s good that we get a week to prepare for it because there’s still work to be done, as it’ll be a tough game. We’re looking forward to it though and it’s another chance to play at Highbury again. If we take that sort of mentality of not getting beat into it and our willingness to win games and score goals then we’ll be a good team and it should be a good game next week”.