Graham Alexander was delighted by his Fleetwood team’s ability to grind down Bristol Rovers – two late goals sealed a 3-1 victory in the West Country and lifted Town back up to second in League Two.
The sides cancelled each other out in a poor first half but Jamille Matt’s strike just after the hour brought the game to life.
John-Joe O’Toole hit straight back for the Pirates, but Matt bagged a second two minutes from time and Jon Parkin added a late bonus to the scoreline.
It was a rugged display, but Alexander doesn’t mind that. The manager said: “We’re not going to go away and play fluid football week in and week out. There are going to be different performances.
“But the application of the lads was superb. The pitch was very sticky to play on.
“There was a tiny bit of frustration at half-time but we told them to forget that.
“We got a great goal, then conceded and we’re disappointed with that, but the response after that was what pleased me the most. It was a happy changing room.”
Despite Rovers’ poor start to the campaign, Alexander made it clear just how hard-fought a win it had been at the Memorial Ground.
“It’s an extremely tough place to come,” he said. “John Ward gets his teams at it. They are very organised and hard to break down, and they offer a threat themselves.
“We had to grind it in periods, but the lads’ discipline has shone through. We were really pleased to score three goals on the road and get three points.”
The majority of Town’s goals have come from midfield this season, so to have three goals shared by his two strikers made Alexander a happy man.
He said: “Jamille is a threat, Bally (David Ball) is a threat and Parky is a threat. It was great midfield play leading up to all three goals. They were top-quality strikers’ goals.
“We defended a lot better than we did last week and as a team we got back to the standard, work ethic and intensity that we need to have.”
After Bristol’s equaliser, there was a period when Fleetwood came under intense pressure, as they had against Exeter City at Highbury seven days earlier.
This time they were able to see off the danger to the relief of the manager.
He said: “Last week didn’t go through my mind. This happens in football – you get leads you lose leads.
“It’s about keeping your focus and not losing your head.
“The goal gave them a great lift and it’s a hostile place with the crowd.
“But man for man our lads dug in and we saw ourselves through.
“We hit the spaces with quality play and scored two good goals.”
There was one momentary scare, when a shot struck the Fleetwood woodwork and a number of bodies but didn’t cross the goal-line.
Alexander wasn’t aware at the time just how close his side had come to falling behind but he said: “That’s football!”