Fleetwood’s Murdoch relishing midfield partnership

Stewart Murdoch

Stewart Murdoch

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Midfielder Stewart Murdoch is loving life as a first team regular at Fleetwood Town and predicts big things for his partnership with Steven Schumacher.

The Scotsman arrived in the summer from Falkirk.

Chances were limited in the early stages of the campaign, with Graham Alexander playing one holding midfielder – Schumacher generally given the nod.

But a change of thought from the Fleetwood boss has allowed Murdoch the game time he so desperately craved having moved south of the border.

And the 23-year-old couldn’t be happier

“I’m really enjoying playing,” he told The Gazette

“The result on Tuesday night was disappointing but when you are in the team you’re just happy to be playing.

“You’ve got to take those ups and downs.

“Whether it’s winning games week in week out or taking setbacks, you’ve got to deal with it but right now I’m just delighted to be playing football.”

Murdoch made his first league start for Fleetwood in the 1-0 win at Hartlepool.

After that he traded games with Schumacher before a move for Jeff Hughes to a wider role created an opening.

And the partnership between former Bury skipper Shumacher and Murdoch appears to be blossoming – the Aberdeen-born midfielder believing the pair’s understanding of each other is growing by the week.

He said: “At the start of the season it was a case we were in there on our own, there was one or the other of us.

“It’s great having Steven in there with me.

“We bounce off each other, create angles off each other, it’s been great.

“We’re beginning to build up a good understanding.

“The more games we play, the better that will be.”

The pair are Fleetwood’s engine room, breaking up opposition play and hunting out the runs of Town’s wide men.

But Murdoch is hoping, as confidence in the pair grows, there’ll be opportunities to press forward himself.

He explained: “Mostly we’re trying to start the play, get the ball of the defence and then give it to the likes of Antoni Sarcevic, Jeff Hughes and Gareth Evans to go forward and create the goals.

Attacking

“But as we play together more you may see one of us getting involved more on the attacking side too.”

Schumacher has already benefitted from the attacking freedom given by Murdoch’s presence, scoring a hat-trick against Newport County.

And Murdoch has seen his own opportunities in front of goal grow in recent weeks.

“When it’s one of you it was a case of get the ball and give it.” he said

“You felt kind of restricted, like you needed to stay in your own half.

“But with the two of us being there, it’s helping.

“I’ve not scored yet but I’ve probably had more shots in the last couple of games than I ever did on my own.

“Schuey got a hat-trick the other week so he’s obviously been able to get forward.”

Defeat at Accrington on Tuesday was a setback in Fleetwood’s promotion push.

But with all the teams at the top struggling to put together any kind of run, Town are still within two points of leaders Oxford United who visit Highbury today.

Consistency, says Murdoch, is a big problem not just for Fleetwood.

He said: “I think if you look across the whole league the main issue has been consistency.

“On Tuesday we were lucky with results elsewhere.

“It goes to show what an problem consistency is for all the teams at the top.

“If we can build up a run of games, a run of results, you’ll see what a massive effect that can have.

“I think it will come.

“We need more performances, more points on the board and we’re working hard to sort that out.”

Key to that consistency, according to Murdoch, is grinding out results at places like Accrington and Northampton – just as important as taking points in top of the table encounters like the one this afternoon at Highbury.

He said: “Every cloud has a silver lining – even after Tuesday we’ve still got a chance to go top.

“But we’ve got to focus on taking care of games like the one at Accrington.

“Whether we leave with a 0-0 draw or a win it’s points in the bag.

“A draw is another point gained.

“We need to be able to take a point and get out of the place.

“A point can be massive come the end of the season.”