Passing from the back is way forward for Fleetwood, says Maxwell

Chris Maxwell
Chris Maxwell
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Fleetwood Town keeper Chris Maxwell has defended the club’s philosophy of playing out from the back and says he has full trust in his back four ahead of today’s home clash with Sheffield United.

Gillingham pulled a goal back at Highbury on Tuesday night, after Luke Norris spotted Town centre-back Joe Davis dwelling on the ball just outside the box.

Although Norris picked Davis’ pocket and drilled the ball past Maxwell, Steven Pressley’s men held out for a 2-1 win, their third victory in four games.

And Maxwell says Pressley’s methods are paying dividends.

He said: “I can hear some of the fans behind the goal getting a bit nervous at times but the manager has full faith in the players.

“I have full trust in my back four. What happened to Joe is going to happen, but it is the way we play and it is a good way of playing.

“You have only got to look at the games and see how many chances we create from actually passing the ball out and dragging teams where they don’t want to be.

“I can assure the fans I am fully confident in the players in front of me, fully confident in the gaffer and fully confident of myself – playing like that is the right thing to do.”

Despite a number of injuries to key defenders this season and a lot of enforced changes to the back four, Maxwell says any player who steps in knows exactly what is required thanks to Pressley’s training.

The Welsh keeper said: “We have been quite unlucky this year with the number of injuries we have had.

“I think a lot of credit has to go to the physio staff, who have got the players back playing quite quickly, but also to the manager and his assistant Neil MacFarlane.

“They have been on at the players every day, chopping and changing the team in training sessions so every single player knows in black and white what they are to do if they come into the team.”

Maxwell believes his job is not just to keep the goals out these days.

He explained: “I think goalkeeping has certainly changed in the last four or five years.

“Goalkeepers are not just there to keep the ball out of the ne. I always stress they are footballers. They are the 11th player on the pitch.

“I will never kick a ball down the field and hope for something. I don’t think that is the right way to do it.

“I like to keep the ball and pass it short, which is football at the end of the day.

“That way of playing provides you with good performances and with three points.

“It is more enjoyable to watch and I’m sure the wins in the last couple of weeks and the performances over the last couple of months proved that.”

The last time Maxwell faced Sheffield United he kept a clean sheet and was a penalty shootout hero as Town knocked the Blades out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. And Maxwell believes 17th-placed Town can make it three wins out of three in their mission to beat the drop.

He said: “I think that as long as we stick to the game-plan and use the confidence we have picked up in the last two games we can come away with three points.

“I have happy memories (of the clubs’ last meeting) – a clean sheet and a penalty win! That is always good for goalkeepers.

“They lost to Burton on Tuesday night. They will have that on their minds and the cup game, so we can only expect a backlash from that.

“We have to make sure we take the confidence we have earned over the last week into the game, do the things right and stick to the game-plan.”

That win over Gillingham moved Fleetwood four points clear of the relegation zone and Maxwell says Townneed only to keep playing well and picking up points, rather than looking over their shoulder at other teams.

He said: “A couple of players check the other results but for me it is solely about Fleetwood. I think that if we play well we win.

“We don’t need to worry about anybody else. If we win our games we will be fine, simple as that.

“It is nice to see a little bit of a cushion between ourselves and the relegation zone but it’s simple – play well, three points.”