Fleetwood boss hails ‘terrific reaction’

David Ball celebrates his winning goal with Jimmy Ryan
David Ball celebrates his winning goal with Jimmy Ryan
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Steven Pressley hailed a stunning Fleetwood performance to end their away day blues with a 2-1 victory at Coventry, the club that sacked him.

Manager Pressley’s return to the Ricoh Arena was plagued with problems – Fleetwood with only three fit defenders and without a win on the road since October.

But a patched-up side dug deep as Wes Burns and David Ball sealed one of the most memorable victories in the club’s Football League history.

The victory saw Town leapfrog Blackpool and climb two points above the League One relegation zone, and after two wins in their last three games Pressley hopes another at home to Gillingham tomorrow will lift his side further clear of danger.

“I thought our reaction was terrific after a setback at Rochdale on Tuesday,” the Town boss said.

“I’ve talked a lot about momentum and we wanted to keep that up. To take six from nine is a huge achievement.

“It isn’t just the victory, it’s the manner of the victory. It’s difficult to individualise after that kind of (team) performance. It was real quality.

“We worked hard over previous two days on how we’d cope with Coventry and how we’d exploit them.

“It was about who provided the best quality and who was best-organised in the transition (from defence to attack).

“The only disappointment was we only won 2-1. I think it should have been more.

“We had so many good moments to capitalise on and we didn’t do that, but I’m delighted with the result.”

The inspiration for Town’s display was David Ball - returning to the side in the no.10 role and scoring a winner which almost matched last season’s Puskas Award-nominated strike against Preston North End.

The 25-yard piledriver six minutes from time, was the highlight of a battling and dominant Fleetwood display, Ball without doubt the stand-out player on the field despite Coventry naming Adam Armstrong and Joe Cole in their ranks.

“Bally was outstanding,” said Pressley. “He was absolutely top-level. I’m really pleased for him because I’ve said to him many times he’s such a good kid.”

The forward could have given Fleetwood the advantage earlier, tumbling inside the box under a clumsy challenge from keeper Reice Charles-Cook.

Referee David Coote’s decision not to give a penalty was typical of the hand Fleetwood have been dealt of late.

But Pressley used the setback in the best way possible.

“It was a penalty,” said the Fleetwood boss. “I wanted to know the reasons why not.

“The reason they gave me was the keeper got a touch on the ball. But if he did it should have been a corner.

“It was a big moment in the game but I said to the players at half-time to use that injustice as a motivation.”

Victor Nirennold’s selection at right-back raised several eyebrows but the ungainly Frenchman may well have found his niche.

Pressley said: “Given he was asked to play in a position a little bit alien to him, Victor was quite outstanding. We’ve maybe found ourselves a new full-back.”

Town were pegged back when a Joe Davis mistake allowed Marcus Tudgay to level, but Pressley was delighted with the way his side battled back.

He said: “We had dominated for so long second half and found ourselves a goal up, then when you get pinned back at a stadium like this, with the great support Coventry have, it’s easy to go under.

“We didn’t do that. We fought back and I’m so proud of the group.”

The Fleetwood boss is now keen to build on an upturn in form and a long-awaited away win.

“I’m really pleased,” he said. “It wasn’t just a significant result in terms of our battle to stay in this division – it’s a psychological boost to ourselves.

“We still have a game in hand on a number of teams. We didn’t utilise it on Tuesday but we’ve got another chance to do so. The away win is massive and we really must push on now.

“We took more risks. We were very brave with our football.

“We asked out midfield three and our back four to defend situations. We knew if we did that we could do well on the break.”

As for scoring personal points over his former employers, Pressley made it clear he was only concerned with events on the pitch.

“I’ve got fond memories,” he said. “I had a great rapport with the supporters and it’s a great football club.

When you’ve worked at a club for two years tirelessly, you’ve always got attached to it.

“It was a big day for myself but it was also an important day for the football club. Most importantly, we got the three points.”