Manager Steven Pressley berated his Fleetwood side’s “inept” performance in the 3-1 defeat at Walsall which takes their survival battle into the final day of the season.
One more point will win their duel with Blackpool to cement a League One spot, and Town have a second chance to earn it at home to relegated Crewe on Sunday.
Town conceded in only the second minute at Banks’s Stadium, whenTom Bradshaw fired home. Paul Downing made it two in the 18th minute and Romaine Sawyers all but put the game to bed with a sweet strike in the 58th minute.
Substitute Devante Cole pulled one back for Town in the 84th minute but it was too little, too late.
Pressley says Town face a massive week on the training ground and must be stronger physically and mentally at Highbury on Sunday.
He said: “I’m hugely disappointed, not only by the result but the performance. I thought it was an inept performance from us.
“I thought we did not manage the early part of the game properly and were second- best in many areas. First half we hardly won a second ball and we have to do much better than that.
“We’ve had a number of chances to put (the relegation fight) to be bed. We have had another today and we have missed it.
“We have got the opportunity again on Sunday and we have to make sure we take that. It is not a nice feeling, especially with what we served up at Walsall.
“We are a much better team than that but we have to show it. It is easy to play when you are 3-0 down.
“You have to show the mentality and courage when the game is in the balance and we did not. We need a response.
“We did not create enough moments and we are much better than that.
“We have to put that aside now, concentrate and make sure we get a win on Sunday.”
TURN TO PAGE 47
Without Wes Burns injured (hamstring) and Bobby Grant dropped, Pressley recalled David Ball up front with 21-year-old Nick Haughton.
But the manager said failure to win “personal battles” proved costly in the Midlands.
He said: “I have talked a lot about tactics but what is not a tactic is winning your personal battles. We did not win ours.
“There are always areas of improvement from myself in terms of what I ask of my players. I will analyse that but I believe we have to be stronger physically and mentally than we were today.
“Walsall thoroughly deserved the points . We were probably lucky to get away with a 3-1 defeat. I thought we did not show the mentality we required.
“It is a really big week for us – not a week that I wanted. I wanted to finish the job at Walsall.
“We have not done that but we have to make sure we see the job through.”
Pressley was forced to bring off centre-half Stephen Jordan shortly after half-time because of a dead leg.
He then replaced Eggert Jonsson with attacker Cole after the third goal and praised his goalscorer’s 30-minute cameo.
Pressley explained: “I wanted to be a bit more positive. We had to get ourselves back into the game.
“Eggy has been a pivotal player but it was a tactical change to bring on additional firepower.”
“I thought Devante made a big difference. He stretched the game, was full of enthusiasm and has given me food for thought (for Sunday).
And Pressley insisted his other substitution, bringing on Victor Nirennold, was not a case of saving Jimmy Ryan for Sunday.
He said: “Jimmy has not really trained for three weeks. He has been taking injections before games and I thought he looked very fatigued.
“I just thought at that time we needed additional energy in the middle of the pitch and that is why I chose Victor.
“I felt Jimmy looked leggy. He has been an outstanding performer for us this year but going a number of weeks without training does take its toll.”