We look back at the first month of 2014
After three consecutive defeats in which Fleetwood Town had scored no goals, hitting the ground running in the first month of 2014 was important.
The postponement at Wycombe Wanderers due to a frozen pitch left the Town squad with the bit between the teeth and starting outside the top seven for the first of the season, Graham Alexander and his team ensured it would be brief stay.
Seeking revenge against their Lancashire derby rivals on January 1, the Cod Army welcomed Accrington Stanley to Highbury looking to display why they were the fourth division’s most potent attackers.
A 3-1 win followed – courtesy of goals from Jon Parkin, David Ball and loan signing Daniel Carr – and Town were back in the top seven. A position they would hold right until the very end.
Three points secured and an end to their recent woes, Fleetwood were back in business, but the victory was even more important over the longer context of the season.
Alan Goodall, back into the fray, established himself as a key cog for Fleetwood on the day in his newly adopted defensive midfield position to give more cover to the defence.
The 32-year-old’s performance was exceptional on the day and his re-emergence in the first-team frame was to play a key part in the remaining five months of the season.
A weekend break followed the derby victory over James Beattie’s ever improving Accrington side as FA Cup fever gripped the nation, but Fleetwood were soon hitting the road again.
Dagenham & Redbridge were next up for the Cod Army in South East London.
A 3-1 victory on the opening day of the new campaign, meant Fleetwood went into the game looking to secure their first domestic double of the season and they duly obliged.
David Ball scored the only goal of a hard fought encounter at The L.B Barking & Dagenham Stadium. Town’s first clean sheet since mid November was secured and a 100% record was still intact.
Victory was to come at a price the following weekend as Graham Alexander’s side extended their winning streak to three games.
After only three minutes at Highbury, Hartlepool United’s Jordan Richards was shown a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Jeff Hughes that left the Irish midfielder with a broken leg.
It was to be the end of the season for Hughes, who had been a consistent performer at the heart of Fleetwood’s midfield, but with the one-man advantage, Town took control.
Patience was the key. Fleetwood controlled large spells of possession, but found themselves up against a stubborn Hartlepool side looking to take a point back to the North East.
It took until 67 minutes, but one goal quickly followed another and strikes from Parkin and Alex Marrow, in his second stint with the club, ensured the host’s secured their second league double in the space of a week.
It set Graham Alexander and his team up nicely for the biggest test of the month yet.
First was a trip to the Midlands to face Burton Albion for a fourth time of the season and on a rain soaked afternoon, where kick-off was delayed for as long as an hour, Fleetwood produced their best performance of the month so far with one player reaching a particular milestone.
David Ball set Town on their way with a well-struck angled effort past Dean Lyness after 20 minutes, but it took until the second half for the contest to burst into life.
An own goal from Mark Roberts leveled matters, but Nathan Pond rose highest only a minute later to score his 50th goal in the red and white of Fleetwood.
Town were at it again, lending the home side another helping hand as Alex Marrow turned the ball past Scott Davies, but Fleetwood were not to be denied.
Parkin and Brown scored late goals to make it four consecutive victories for the Cod Army. Two days later, a 0-0 draw with Scunthorpe United in front of the Sky cameras ensured the Cod Army finished January with 13 points from 15.
That record, rightfully, meant Graham Alexander was named as the Manager of the Month and Town were back in the top three. Promotion was the talk at the end of January, but the first game of February was the moment League 2 witnessed a rising.