FLEETWOOD Town skipper Rob Atkinson is desperate to get his side’s promotion campaign back on track – starting tonight against Cheltenham Town.
The Robins visit Highbury to face a Fleetwood side who have conceded six goals in two games, scoring none themselves but notching up an unenviable three red cards.
It’s a record which has dented Town’s push for a top-seven spot, but Atkinson insists Fleetwood will go all out tonight to put things right.
He said: “All the lads can see we let ourselves down in the first half particularly, all over the pitch.
“It was about earning the right to play and we didn’t do that in the first half.
“We didn’t win enough battles all over the pitch, it’s as simple as that.
“We came out second half and had a bit more of a go.
“But we’re all gutted and we’re ready and raring to go for Cheltenham.
And Atkinson, who has taken over the captaincy at Highbury since the departure of Steve McNulty to Luton Town, believes it’s all still to play for as far as the play-offs are concerned.
“The play-offs are definitely in sight,” he said.
“We’ve got a big 10 days coming up.
“There are a couple of midweek games (Town head to Barnet next Tuesday after the weekend trip to Wycombe) and we really need to capitalise on them, get three points and really cement our place in the play-offs.
“It’s a huge week or two for us and for our season. We’re all hanging in there to make the play-offs and we’re not going to let it get away from us or slip though our hands.”
Jamie McGuire was one of two men sent off on Saturday – given his marching orders for violent conduct
He has said sorry to his team-mates but Atkinson refused to blame defeat on the incident, or the later challenge which led to the dismissal of Alan Goodall.
He said:“Jamie’s held his hands up and apologised to the lads. He’s probably in the wrong and he knows that.
“But we’re not going to use either sending-off as an excuse. It’s always going to be hard with nine men but we’re not going to hide behind the sendings off and make excuses.
“We weren’t good enough, even with 11 on. The referee has made a decision and after that it’s an uphill challenge.
“But we simply weren’t good enough in any position.”
And Atkinson insisted everyone in the dressing room was desperate to put the resuls against Aldershot and Burton behind them.
He said: “After a result like Saturday, we want to bounce back as quickly as possible and this is the perfect opportunity to do that.
“Cheltenham are up there, like us, and we know it’s going to be a big game for both sides.
“But it’s a perfect opportunity for us to get our campaign back on track.
“Everyone is giving 110 per cent, doing everything they can for the team and I definitely think it will come right in the long run.”
n Play-off contenders Cheltenham were in Lancashire on Saturday when they fought out a 2-2 draw at struggling Accrington Stanley.
Cheltenham twice led through Marlon Pack, the first from the penalty spot, but former England international and Blackpool striker James Beattie responded with both goals for Stanley.
The result marked a further slip off the promotion place for manager Mark Yates’ Robins.
The Accrington match was the sixth time Cheltenham had drawn in the last nine matches.