Town up to third ahead of FA Cup replay
Graham Alexander was delighted following his side’s 2-1 win over a resilient Rochdale side, which moved Fleetwood Town up to third place at Spotland.
The victory was only Rochdale’s third defeat at home so far this season, and it was a tough battle between two genuine footballing sides.
Mark Roberts’ nodded in the winner with just eight minutes to go after Scott Hogan, brother of Town’s Liam, cancelled out Antoni Sarcevic’s penalty in the first half.
The manager said: “I thought that we were fantastic today and the players had discipline that they showed in the game, against a very good team. We had to show that, otherwise we would have conceded possession and goals, but I thought we did great on that and we scored two goals, so it is a great away performance.
“There is no individual that I can pick out really to stand-out, because I thought that everyone did their job for the team and that is what it was. Nobody was playing for themselves or doing their own thing, they were all playing for the team and that is what we are delighted to see.”
Alexander was pleased with the discipline carried into Saturday’s game from the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win in mid-week, as Town continued to battle for the full 90 minutes against a strong Dale side.
He continued: “We were disappointed to concede the goal from the set-piece because it was a poor goal for marking, but I told them at half time to just keep doing what we had been doing in the first half. I wouldn’t say we were in control, because Rochdale are a very good team, but we were in control of how we wanted to play and that was the biggest thing for us. In the second half we have gone out there and have been disciplined again, we haven’t conceded any chances hardly, or possession, because Rochdale get the ball down and play good football.
“I thought that we created opportunities and passed the ball around well too, so it was really pleasing to see that goal go in.”
Fleetwood knew it was going to be a tough game going into the clash, as the home side had only been beaten twice at Spotland- the most recent being a 0-4 thumping by Scunthorpe United.
Rochdale dropped out of the play-off spots and into 8th place after the defeat, which shows just how tight League Two is at the top.
“We will never under-estimate a team like Rochdale, especially on their patch because we knew it was going to be a tough game today and it was, but I think that makes it all the more pleasing that in the last two games, we have won the both and it is a good feeling. The lads have worked really hard in the last two weeks on certain aspects of our play, and it is important that we see the results of that on a match day and I think that we have done that. But now have to prepare for another tough game on Tuesday.”
Alexander also commented about the impact of his substitions.
“We freshened it up quite early with Junior Brown and Daniel Carr. It was a big, physical effort on Tuesday and emotional too, because it was a massive win and you are on a high then you have to come back down to training and get ready for another game, but I thought the lads worked their socks off. We brought Junior and Dan on to give us a bit more zip and more energy and I thought that they both did that, then we brought Murdoch on for the same reason and they all made a telling contribution to the win and made decisions at really good times.”
The home fans were causing a fuss when the referee pointed to the spot after Charlie Taylor was brought down by defender Rhys Bennett in the first half, but Alexander had no doubt that it was the correct decision.
He continued: “I thought it was a penalty. The lad came across at pace to obviously block Charlie’s run and I thought it was a penalty and it was a great finish from Sarcevic. We are disappointed with the goal we conceded, because it was a set-piece and a second ball and we should be defending that a little bit better. But I thought our second goal was a good bit of improvisation from Schumacher and Brown to play it short and we put a great ball in, Pondy has attacked it well with proper intent, and Roberts has finished it off.
“Both Pondy and Roberts deserved that because they both played really well, and the right things at the right time and it is always rewarding for a defender to get the winning goal, as we saw on Tuesday and today.”
He also sent out a reminder that the squad is full of talented players who are just waiting for their chance to shine and help out their team mates at all costs.
“We know that we have got players in the squad itching for a chance, so the support from the lads that didn’t get onto the pitch today was fantastic. They are urging the players to the right things at the right time and that is a big thing for the camaraderie of the group, and they will all get their chance to play. It will be a squad that are successful this season, it won’t be a team, but a squad and it is important that the players remember that.”
The manager also praised the travelling Cod Army that made the journey to the game and cheered on his men.
He concluded: “They were fantastic. There was a bigger group than usual because of the location so it was great to see them. I thought that the players really gave it a good shot and I think that those supporters will really appreciate the work that went into it, and of course with the result- they will go home happy tonight.