FLEETWOOD Town were missing the X-Factor, says boss Graham Alexander, as they squandered chances to put their playoff chase back on track.
Town let a number of good chances go begging as they were forced to settle for a goalless stalemate against Exeter City – almost caught out by a Jamie Cureton sucker punch at the death. And Alexander admitted his side, despite some solid defending and effective build up play, were lacking in front of goal.
He said: “We were looking for a win. We spoke about taking the game to them and I though we did. We lost our sharpness about 15 minutes from the end of the first half, maybe that was down to the effort of the first half hour.
“We started the second half well, we had a good period, worked the ball from side to side which good teams do.
“We just needed that bit of magic, the X-Factor – to just get that goal. It’s what we deserved.”
Alexander knows Town must turn round a run of form which has seen them score just once in more than 450 minutes of football.
He said: “It’s a big issue for us because the club has invested in strikers in the summer It’s not all down to them but we’re not scoring enough goals to take the pressure of the rest of the team. When we came here we were hard to beat. But we need to make sure as well as that we create and take the opportunities and make sure we’re not in danger of losing a game like we did at Wycombe. We’re working on it, we have to create opportunities and score goals.”
Town were certainly down on their luck inside The Grecians’ area – a goal bound effort from Anthony Barry coming back not off an Exeter shirt, but team-mate Gareth Evans.
Alexander said: “We’re disappointed because overall I think we had opportunities in the final third. We just needed a break in front of goal There were a couple of set pieces and opportunities that we created. I never thought we were in danger of losing the game, until the last flurry of corners from them. It would have been a travesty if we had lost.”
The Fleetwood boss changed things round for the visit of Paul Tisdale’s men – using pacy wide man Evans in a more central role – a move which gave Fleetwood much needed pace through the middle.
He said: “We wanted attacking threats from different angles. We wanted Gareth Evans to use his running power going past Jon Parkin, then with Junior and Ryan Crowther wide and the full backs bombing on as well. We lost Dean Howell to a hamstring injury which was a blow given the work he’s put in. We thought it was a formation to put Exeter under pressure. There are encouraging signs there.
“I’m encouraged by the performance because it’s better than the last three or four. You don’t turn it round in one game – but we’re on our way.”
Fleetwood had plenty of firepower on the bench as well as on the field – a second half substitute appearance for Jamille Matt marking his return to favour. Alexander explained his absence last week at Adams Park.
“Jamille came on after missing a week through personal problems,” he said. “Jon Parkin, above, ran himself into the ground, he’s getting fitter with every game. He’s getting fitter with every week. I can’t think of one player who didn’t put in a shift for us and that’s what we want to see.”
Meanwhile, Town’s trip to Barnet has once again been moved. The game, rearranged for a week tomorrow, has now been moved back to Tuesday, April 16