Chance to beat Gills thrills Fleetwood boss

Graham Alexander
Graham Alexander

Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insists tonight’s daunting trip to Gillingham can’t come soon enough as he looks to banish Saturday’s blues.

Town surrendered a half-time lead, going down 2-1 to a very average Port Vale side.

Tonight they face one of League One’s early pace-setters, with Alexander looking to end a five-game run without a win.

The odds are stacked against Fleetwood.

Not only have the Gills, inspired by the form of Bradley Dack, made a strong start to the campaign but Fleetwood are also struggling for fitness at the back.

Conor McLaughlin hobbled through the last 10 minutes of Saturday’s defeat and Tyler Forbes was substituted after a string of tough challenges left him limping.

Danny Andrew, Amari’i Bell and Nathan Pond are also missing, and asking Stephen Jordan to play a full 90 minutes would be risky.

But Alexander’s message ahead of the trip to Priestfield was simple. “It’s brilliant, I can’t wait,” he said.

“It’s a great game down there. We were hurting on Saturday but now we’ve got another big, tough game waiting for us.”

The Town boss is hoping for a few minor miracles on the fitness front as he continues to juggle his pack, fitting square pegs into round holes just to put out a defence.

He continued: “There’s Nathan Pond, Danny Andrew, Amari’i Bell, Brendan Moore .... there’s a few in the defensive area.

“But we have to get on with it. We haven’t got magic hands. We can’t make it not hurt.

“We’ll see who is fit and able, and pick a team from who is ready and able and willing to dig in, put in a performance and get a result for us at Gillingham. If they are fit they will go straight back in but we just have to wait.

“They were in with the phsyio’s on Sunday and we just have to see how they respond.

“There are a couple knocking on the door and we’ll just have to see how they are.

“Hopefully we can get a couple of players back, fit and ready for the game.”

One positive for Alexander was Saturday’s performance by on-loan centre-half Richard Wood, who is expected to partner Victor Nirennold this evening.

He put in a powerful display against Vale, despite lacking match action this term.

“I thought Richard showed what he’s about and led the back four,” said Alexander.

“He’s had two training sessions. He had not played a first-team game since last season but he fitted straight in.

“He’s a top pro and he’ll keep himself in good shape. We expect him to have a go again at Gillingham.”

Fleetwood continue to suffer as a result of their inexperience – Wood the only man over the age of 26 in Saturday’s squad.

But Alexander won’t make excuses for his side, making it clear every player picked would be treated as a senior professional and be expected to deliver.

“I want everyone to rally round,” he said. “If I’m going to pick young players, they have to take the responsibility being out there. I’m not just going to pick three or four of the squad to lift the group.

“I expect everybody to be positive and ready to go again, regardless of age.

“If they want to play football, we expect them to be ready to be treated as men.”

And the Town boss wants to channel the pain of Saturday’s setback in the right way.

The Fleetwood boss felt things went against his side after the break, not least the decision not to show a red card to Vale’s Remie Streete following a challenge on Jamille Matt just outside the area.

He said: “All we can do is get them ready – Saturday is gone.

“We have to take the pain, channel it in the right way and go again.

“We just have to prepare to put in a 95-minute performance and hopefully we get a fair ground to play on, though I’m not holding out much hope.”