Fleetwood Town boss still targets top three

Graham Alexander with Steven Schumacher on Tuesday night
Graham Alexander with Steven Schumacher on Tuesday night

The fight for automatic promotion goes on at Highbury, insists boss Graham Alexander, despite Tuesday’s home drubbing at the hands of Plymouth Argyle.

The 4-0 reverse was the worst result and performance of Town’s campaign.

And on the back of a 1-0 defeat at Mansfield on Saturday, Fleetwood are now five points outside the top three.

Eighth-placed Plymouth are now seven points behind Town, but Alexander insists he’s not looking over his shoulder and remains focused on the summit of the table.

“We’re still looking at the top,” he said. “We’ve spent one week on the season outside of the play-off spots and we’re still up there.

“We haven’t given up anything but we know Tuesday night wasn’t good enough. That has to be the bottom.”

The former Preston and Burnley defender came under fire from the stands during Tuesday’s defeat but he is adamant he can lead a fightback at Fleetwood and keep the promotion dream alive.

Alexander said: “There’s no way we’re giving anything up – it’s not in my nature.

“I’ve fought like hell for everything in my career. My staff are the same and the players.

“We’re going to make sure we get this right. I’m still not looking at the play-offs – I’m looking top three.”

But Alexander will want to see a tougher side of his Fleetwood team when they entertain AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

“We have to be tougher with each other as professionals,” he admitted.

“It’s not about being mates, it’s about being winners and that’s what we’re here for.”

Alexander’s criticism wasn’t reserved for the Fleetwood team.

He was also left to question the negativity which swept around Highbury after Reuben Reid smashed Argyle ahead in the 21st minute.

“That negativity is disappointing,” he said. “I’ve got a group of players who are trying their hardest.

“They are sometimes misguided, a bit up and down, but they are an honest bunch and try their hardest

“Everyone was singing their praises a week ago.

“It’s still the same players but we have taken a hefty knock.

“We have to turn it around as a group and the responsibility lies with me to do that.”

And he reserved particular venom for the reaction to Tuesday’s lone-striker Jamille Matt, making just his second start after a four-month spell out with a broken ankle.

“Jamille is still finding his way after being out for four months,” he said. “People have to be patient.

“There was a bit of negativity after his first touch but he was great for us before he got injured.

“He’s got a great ratio of goals to games but he’s been out for four months.

“I just can’t understand that response.”