Fleetwood midfielder Kyle Dempsey’s 21st birthday might have been dampened by a 2-1 defeat to Rochdale but he believes that September result taught Town a valuable lesson – do not underestimate anyone.
It was only Dempsey’s second league start for Town after joining on loan from Huddersfield.
Fleetwood travelled to Spotland on a four-game unbeaten run, whereas Rochdale were without a win at the bottom of League One.
Steven Davies’ late winner saw Keith Hill’s Dale go on a six-game winning spree, while Town’s next match saw them suffer their only league defeat so far at fortress Highbury as they lost 4-1 to MK Dons.
Fast forward five months and both sides are battling it out at the top end of the table, with fourth-placed Town aiming to make it 14 unbeaten in the league, with Dale just five points behind in seventh.
Dempsey said of that birthday defeat: “I think we just went in over-confident. We thought we couldn’t get beaten and we underestimated them because at the time they were struggling.
“I think that gave us that lift not to underestimate anyone in this league and just keep going with the mentality of trying to win every single game.
“I think in front of our home fans in our own stadium we are a really solid team. It is a big game and the get the win would be massive.
“The unbeaten streak has allowed us to really catch up. Three massive wins we had on the bounce (against Shrewsbury, Coventry and Sheffield United) gave us the position to stay in the play-off zone.
“The way we are playing now, we go into every game with confidence and I think that showed in the last two games, in which we have equalised late on. That has really shown the character in the squad.”
Those draws have kept Fleetwood fourth and Dempsey believes a level head is the key to continuing to scale such heights.
We added: “We have just got to keep our head and keep going, doing what we are doing and hopefully it pays off at the end.
“I think the main game we gained the confidence from was the Sheffield United game.
“Obviously they were flying high at the top of the league, and I think the way we addressed the game really showed our character and how far we have come.
“If we just keep going and keep grinding out the results....
“Sometimes maybe we need to start the game like we are finishing. If we can solidify and put those two together – starting well and finishing well – then I think we can go a really good distance.”