Alexander goes easy on Fleetwood’s wasteful winners

David Ball
David Ball
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Graham Alexander refused to be too harsh on his Fleetwood players for missing chances after they stumbled into the second round of the FA Cup.

Town’s 2-0 win over Conference North strugglers Gloucester City at Cheltenham was far from convincing but it was enough to earn Alexander’s men a home tie against League Two rivals Burton Albion in the next round on December 7.

Goals from David Ball and Jon Parkin sealed the tie, but Town missed a boat-load of other chances.

Alexander said: “You’re not going to convert every chance you make. There were a couple today when maybe we should have done better.

“The lads know, so there’s no point going on at them. At least they’ve got themselves into good positions. But credit to Gloucester, I think 2-0 is a fair scoreline.”

Among the chances which went begging was a penalty slammed against the post by the previous weekend’s hat-trick hero Steven Schumacher.

Penalty ace Alexander was quick to sympathise with his midfielder, adding: “It’s difficult sometimes when you’ve scored two penalties the game before, both in the same corner.

“Your mind starts playing tricks. You ask yourself if you go the same way or change it. It’s a mind game.

“But you can’t have any regrets. You take your penalty and give it your best shot

“It would have given us a cushion to take into the rest of the game but it wasn’t to be and it’s ended up on a knife-edge at times.

“But on another day we could have scored another two or three. We’ve created some really good chances.”

The game was poised at 1-0 until substitute Parkin pounced in the 84th minute to put the tie beyond the Tigers.

It was a nervous wait for Alexander. “1-0 is a dangerous score because you get a mistake, a slip, a set-piece or even a piece of good play from them, and it’s all square and your opponents have the momentum.

“Fortunately we didn’t concede. We had to wait on to get the second goal but once that went in the game was over.”

The Fleetwood boss recognised it had been a frustrating afternoon at times for Fleetwood’s travelling fans.

He said: “I thought we did well in patches but you’re never going to dominate a game for 90 minutes, no matter who you are playing.

“Gloucester have then come back at us and had a couple of good chances.”

It was an end-to-end afternoon at Cheltenham’s Whaddon Road, with a total of 46 shots from both sides.

Alexander joked: “I like the game open .... when we’ve got the ball. When the opponents have the ball we like to try to close it down . We knew it was going to be a difficult game. It proved that way but we were happy to win 2-0.”

And the Fleetwood boss was pleased to see two recognised strikers find the target, particularly with top scorer Jamille Matt sidelined for at least a month.

He added: “We don’t care who scores as long as somebody scores and we win. But it’s what strikers thrive on and they’ll go home happy knowing they’ve both scored.

“It’s good for them to have that confidence and we’ll take it into Wednesday (when Carlisle visit Highbury in the regional quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy).”

As for the changes at the back, Alexander explained: “Liam Hogan was suspended and Ryan Cresswell came down with an illness.

“But we’ve brought in two good players in Conor McLaughlin and Mark Roberts, and they have both done well. It was important and pleasing to keep a clean sheet away from home. Happy days.

FA Cup second round opponents Burton have already won at Highbury in the league this season.