Fleetwood striker’s faith in ice cool Grezza

David Ball
David Ball

Striker David Ball hailed the calming influence of boss Graham Alexander as the tension mounts ahead of tomorrow’s play-off decider.

Fleetwood Town take a 1-0 lead into the second leg of their Sky Bet League Two play-off semi- final against York City, which kicks off at 7.45pm.

And Ball insists Alexander will have Fleetwood prepared right for the biggest game ever staged at Highbury.

Speaking of the Town boss, Ball said:”He’s brilliant. He’s probably one of the best managers I’ve played under.

“He looks in depth at everything and he’s a real deep thinker.

“The calm he has he passes on to us, and I think you can see that in some of our recent performances.

“We’ve become a real reflection of him, a side that he’s built.”

The win on Monday night, sealed by a Matty Blair goal six minutes into the second half, was a big indicator of the character in Alexander’s Town squad.

The match was originally scheduled for Saturday night but was postponed 48 hours due to a waterlogged pitch.

And Ball insists Alexander’s handling of the situation made all the difference.

He added: “The excitement built up as a player. You go there on Saturday and then there’s a quick comedown, but then you’re straight at it again.

“The result on Monday showed the character of the group. We’re all in it together and we’re showing that.”

Town’s fans may be excited by the one-goal lead. But inside the camp, all talk of Wembley is forbidden and Fleetwood will approach tomorrow’s game as if they are on level terms with York.

Ball said: “As soon as you get the first leg done, you look forward to the next leg.

“It’s only half-time in the tie and we’ve got to focus on winning the game.

“We’ve got that one goal lead but we’ve got to look at Friday as one game, simple as that.”

Fleetwood’s players haven’t even given thought to the fact that Monday’s win brought an end to York’s 17-game unbeaten run.

“Nobody’s even spoken about it,” said Ball. “That reflects the way the manager is. We’ve not talked about what we achieved on Monday night.

“It’s just been a case of moving straight on to Friday. All our focus is on that.

“It’s always been about the next game, about us. And he’s right – if we’re in the right place we can beat any team.”

Ball came through the youth system at Manchester City and still has friends in high places.

Burnley defender Kieran Trippier Tweeted his support ahead of Monday’s kick-off at Bootham Crescent.

But one former team-mate went one step further. Ball explained: “I had my mate Adam Clayton, who is at Huddersfield, in the away end at York in a Fleetwood shirt with ‘Ball’ on his back.

“A lot of lads I’ve played with over the years are at higher levels and want me back there too. They’re supporting me all the way.”

The 23-year-old won’t only be counting on the support of his close friends tomorrow – he will be looking for inspiration from the kind of Highbury atmosphere which has seen Fleetwood beat League One sides Crewe, Carlisle and Rotherham under the lights.

He said: “There’s been a certain buzz about the big home games at night. We’ve played some slick football in those games.

“We’ve come up against teams like Rotherham, who are giving it a go to get in the Championship. We’ve got to look at that and see what kind of success we can have.

“If we can match them for work ethic and physicality, we’ve got the players to hurt teams. If we can get that right on the night we’ll go through.”