‘It was a game for the defenders’

Jeff Hughes on the ball
Jeff Hughes on the ball

Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insisted his team were still very much a work in progress following a battling victory at Victoria Park.

Jeff Hughes bundled the ball over the line after 14 minutes to make it three wins out of four for Town, who soaked up an ocean of pressure from the home side to claim victory and climb to third in League Two.

“We had to work extremely hard, it was a very tough game,” admitted Alexander.

“We had to defend more than I would have liked but we’ve come away with a clean sheet and three points, so we’re not going to beat ourselves up. We know we can improve.

“If we can pick up results as we improve that’s good for us. But we’re still a work in progress.”

Alexander was impressed with his side’s second half resilience. Pools threw the kitchen sink at Fleetwood in the search for an equaliser but were thwarted by a patched-up Fleetwood back line.

“It gets to a certain point in the game and you’re thinking about changing it,” said Alexander. “But it’s not really about tactics and formation it’s down to them.

“They have three big lads up front and put in ball after ball and you’ve just got to stand up and be counted.

“It comes down to who want to win the most. We’ve had lads in the box getting whatever they could on the ball, blocks with their midriffs or whatever and sometimes you’ve just got to do that.

“It wasn’t a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination but defensively they’ve worked their socks off.

“We’ve had to call on Scott (Davies) a couple of times but that’s what he’s here for.”

Nathan Pond and Stewart Murdoch were thrown in at the last minute as Ryan Creswell and Steven Schumacher failed fitness tests, and Alexander was full of praise for both.

He said: “Both of those lads were pushing for a staring berth. They’ve been great since the start of pre-season. They’ve been really frustrated.

“It was a real battle to come into but probably a game for defenders today.”

As for Hughes’ goal, Alexander doesn’t mind admitting it was a case of smash and grab.

“That’s football,” he said. “We’ve soaked up a bit of bit of pressure and we know we’ve got a goal threat from midfield.

“And that’s how it’s come about. It’s a decent ball in from Sarcevic and Jeff Hughes is there to finish it off.

“It’s great for that but we gave away too many opportunities for Hartlepool.”