Ball’s belief: Play-offs are still in reach

David Ball
David Ball

STRIKER David Ball has urged Fleetwood’s fans not to give up on their promotion dream – as Town prepare to face struggling Barnet tonight (8.0).

The Bees are one of five League Two teams tied on 40 points at the bottom of the table, which became ever tighter on Saturday following Fleetwood’s defeat at Plymouth Argyle.

At the other end of the table, Town are still only six points off the play-off places, despite winning only one of their last seven games, and victory at Underhill tonight could halve that gap.

Ball believes there will still be twists and turns as the season comes to a close.

He said: “We’re still just six points off it and we’ve got to play Rotherham (who currently occupy the final play-off spot).

“That’s an incentive to go to Barnet and get a result. We can still make the play-offs.

“We’ve all seen how things are in this league.

“It all changes so quickly.

“We’re not out of it yet.”

Defeat at Home Park on Saturday prompted an online outburst from chairman Andy Pilley. His ire was directed as the players, rather than manager Graham Alexander, following a first-half performance in which Town conceded two soft goals.

Ball conceded the first 45 minutes had been poor. “The first half killed it for us,” he said.

“We looked too comfortable and made two bad mistakes for the goals.

“We didn’t compete enough.”

After that Fleetwood faced an uphill struggle, creating chances but unable to claw their way back, despite Ball’s 75th-minute strike.

He said: “Goals change games and we had chances to score eight or nine at the weekend.

“We piled on the pressure but they sat in. It was frustrating just to get the one.”

Following the defeat at Argyle, Alexander warned his side against complacency.

He said: “We have to drill home that we are playing good sides week in and week out.

“If we’re not performing at our top level, giving 100 per cent , it’s not good enough.

“We never give up.

“We’ve got eight games to show what we’re about.

“It’s up to individuals, it’s up to me, it’s up to the whole set-up to show what we’re about.

“The proof will be on the pitch. We go to Barnet and we have to compete. We have to play good football and we have to score goals. But we have to compete first.”

Paul McKenna will be missing for the trip to Underhill following his late sending-off at Home Park for a second bookable offence.

Anthony Barry could return to the centre of midfield alongside Jamie McGuire, Alexander once again forced to choose between Junior Brown, Gareth Evans and Ryan Crowther for wide positions.

Jon Parkin and David Ball have scored four goals between them in the last two and are likely to start up front.

Dean Howell remains sidelined with a hamstring problem. Alan Goodall deputised at left-back on Saturday and could do the same tonight. If that is the case, Nathan Pond and Rob Atkinson are likely to partner each other in central defence for a third game running.

Andy Mangan continues to press Alexander for a spot on the bench but the Fleetwood boss wants to see the forward play in a friendly, along with central defender Youl Mawene, before any return to first-team action.