Fleetwood head coach Uwe Rosler highlighted the improvement and hard work behind the scenes that enabled centre-half Cian Bolger to be crowned player of the season.
At the start of the campaign Bolger, 25, had to bide his time before breaking into the first team after his summer switch from Southend.
But after replacing Ashley Eastham in a flat back four at the end of October, Bolger has gone from strength to strength and has been a key figure in defence as Rosler shifted to 3-5-2.
The giant defender was missed in recent games after picking up an ankle knock in the 2-0 defeat at Oldham, but he came off the bench to set up David Ball’s equaliser at Gillingham as Town went on to win 3-2.
Rosler is pleased with the way Bolger applied himself while out of the side and with the Irishman’s improvement in it. He said: “I’d just like to highlight Cian Bolger. He improved himself through a lot of individual work and the rest is history.”
Port Vale’s win over Walsall on Tuesday means their last-gasp survival bid is still alive ahead of Sunday’s trip to Highbury – they climbed to within a point of Gillingham and safety.
But Fleetwood have a bigger prize to play for and Rosler said: “We will put out a competitive team. We have an extra day, which helps us prepare.
“We have to go hard out and I think that is probably very good for us because Port Vale will be tough. They are fighting for their lives.”
Town striker Ash Hunter broke his three-month goal drought in the 3-2 comeback win at Gillingham.
Hunter netted his 11th goal of a 52-game season and Rosler says there is more to come from the 21-year-old ... if he listens. “I think he needed that goal,” Rosler said.
“He played well and gave us something ou need in those games – he can turn a tie with a magic moment.
“He has never played as much as this year. Last season he started four games –this season it’s over 20. When he has been on the bench, he has come on in nearly every game, so he has played a massive amount of football.
“I think he gets better but there is far more to come from him – as long as he listens to me.”
As for Saturday’s matchwinner Kyle Dempsey, Rosler praised the 21-year-old’s “warrior-like” qualities.
He said: “Kyle could have done a little bit better on the ball in the first half but he is a warrior and a fighter. He believes in his qualities and he will never give-up.
“Throughout the game he fought his way in through duels, headers, second-balls and then he got us that goal.”