Fleetwood's Eastham gets set to tighten up at Oxford

Ashley Eastham
Ashley Eastham

Ash Eastham wants Fleetwood to shore up their set-piece defending at Oxford tonight after this season’s Achilles heel returned to leave Town hobbling towards their survival target.

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After five successive clean sheets had taken Town to the brink of League One survival, they conceded three at Rotherham to lose for the first time since John Sheridan took over.

Two of those three goals came from set-pieces, and although Eastham and fellow central defender Cian Bolger scored set-piece goals for Town, Eastham wants to return to a clean slate at the Kassam Stadium.

He said: “It is always nice to score and chip in but we pride ourselves on clean sheets. On Saturday we conceded a few sloppy goals, especially from set-pieces, which is disappointing.

“When you look at the goals, a lot of it is chaos in the box. We were not broken down or cut open by a pass, it is carnage in the box. You have to stick to your man but there were too many occasions when we just let it slip.

“For two of the goals you have probably 10-15 men in the six-yard box. It is hard to deal with but you just have to make sure your man does not score.

“We have been very good at that recently, so we need to make sure on Tuesday that we are back on that.”

Eastham says play-off chasers Rotherham perhaps wanted the win more than Sheridan’s men, who are virtually safe with 51 points.

Asked what the difference between the sides was, he said: “Possibly they wanted it a bit more. I think we were happy to sit off and not get in their faces.

“Inevitably that makes you sit back further. As a team we probably need to get 10-20 yards further up the pitch. It kind of invited too much pressure on our box, which paid off for them.”

Eastham says one more win from the final five games will safeguard League One status and Town want to achieve it against Karl Robinson’s Oxford tonight.

He added: “We are looking forward to it. Oxford are another team in and around us in the league and our focus is to get three points.

“I’m expecting a tough test. They have a new manager, so the players have got a point to prove. They are fighting for their safety.

“We need to target at least three points as soon as possible.”

Eastham hailed the Cod Army ahead of another long trip. He said: “You could hear the fans all the way through at Rotherham. They are always there for us and it is fantastic to have that support.”