I can think of worse ways to enter into a two-week break from football than a 6-0 win. The majority of time spent as a supporter of a football team is waiting for these outstanding moments to happen. All those dreary afternoons spent getting angrier and angrier over referees, time-wasting opposition goalkeepers and your own side’s inadequacies, are all made worthwhile by those sorts of results. To have two weeks to savour that result has been fully welcome in my book.
You would hope that the result and subsequent break will also prove to be the shot in the arm that we had needed after more than a few disappointing results of late. It was a reminder that this team is actually one of the most devastating at this level when it’s our day and should serve to make it all the more frustrating that we are not currently sitting in the race for automatic promotion.
It would be easy to get carried away after that kind of result, it was our biggest win in over half a century, but there does have to be a realisation too that it was something of a freak result too. Bury, who have taken seven points from their subsequent three games, asked questions of us going forward and spurned a few very good chances. Bury’s defence and goalkeeper let them down badly and probably should really have prevented at least three or four of those goals we mustered.
Take nothing away from that win though, when a team defends like that against you, you’ve got to make sure that you take advantage of it. It’s clear that as long as we have Joe Cole on the pitch, we’re going to be a danger from set-pieces which could make a massive difference in tighter comes to come. The new central defensive partnership offered solidity and composure in absolute spades, Baily Cargill in particular. We’ve got to feel confident now that this team can not only take advantage of shocking defending but can stand firm in the tougher games we’re set to face.
It’s hard to see Tony Mowbray now being tempted to make changes, although there have been plenty of occasions this season so far where he has altered things just when there hasn’t appeared to be a need. With Jim O’Brien gone now, seemingly for good, it’s hard to identify anyone elsewhere in the squad who would be an improvement on the 11 who took Bury apart. Fitness and suspensions permitting, this looks like it should be our team for the rest of the season.
Last Time We Met
We had the honour of providing Steven Pressley his first opposing team as Fleetwood manager back in October. A Sky Blues side having to deal without Adam Armstrong in attack struggled to make use of being on top for much of the game. The winner came in the dying moments of the game with substitute George Thomas making his most significant impact yet in the first-team, providing the effort on goal which our former player Richard Wood was unfortunate enough to divert into his own net.
How Are They Doing?
Fleetwood have vacillated between looking like kicking on under Steven Pressley and succumbing meekly to the end of season relegation places. Although they have generally struggled for wins and goals under Pressley, there have been results like a 4-0 thrashing of Burton which suggested that they have a lot more to offer than what they have often served up.
Having finished in the top half last season and looking in good shape to kick on, Fleetwood’s struggles this season have largely been down to an attempt to cut costs and develop young talent at the club. Over the past month or so, there has seemingly been a realisation at the club that the players they expected to lead this transitional period weren’t good enough and they have since brought in six, more notably experienced, new faces into the squad to lift them out of the mire.
The most notable new addition to Fleetwood’s squad is Shola Ameobi, the former Newcastle striker who made a career of promising much but delivering relatively little. He arrives at Fleetwood having had a decent spell at cash-strapped Bolton Wanderers at Championship level and certainly has the pedigree to cause us a lot of problems. Pressley has been deploying Ameobi as the spearhead of a 4-3-3 formation with pacier, more mobile, attacking players looking to play off around him.
If Pressley has his druthers about him, he’ll set up his side to soak up pressure and sting us on the counter attack. In forwards Devante Cole and Ash Hunter, Pressley has two quick players who can run in behind if we give them the opportunity to, although both are very erratic finishers. Bristol City loanee Wes Burns is another quick player to look out for and may well start ahead of either Cole or Hunter having looked bright in his first couple of appearances and coming close to snatching a point late on against Rochdale on Tuesday night.
In midfield, Jimmy Ryan could be the man to pick out Fleetwood’s quick players on the counter-attack with his passing ability. Ryan, who played a big role in Chesterfield’s run into the play-offs last season, is one of the few reliable performers in this Fleetwood side whose ability to influence the game could prove to be a key in the final result.
Whether we can describe our last result as a freak or the jump-start our season needed depends on whether we can get the result in this game, as well as the next few as we enter into a congested run of fixtures. Fleetwood are struggling for form at the wrong end of the table at the moment, which presents the perfect opportunity to keep this momentum building.
My feeling heading into this game is that if we name the same starting 11 as we did against Bury, we’ll get the win here. More than anything, the composure that messrs Cargill and Stephens offered at the back had me feeling a lot more confident that we’re not going to be as prone to giving teams goals as we had been previously. Feeling confident, my prediction is for a 3-1 Sky Blues victory.