Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander pointed to a bright future for his young squad in the wake of last night’s 3-0 home defeat to promotion-chasing MK Dons.
Goals from Dele Alli, Will Gregg and Lewis Baker all but ended Town’s play-off hopes but the manager was far from downbeat over a night which saw Ashley Hunter impress on his first start for the club.
Town hit the bar through Gareth Evans, and had gone close through Antoni Sarcevic and Adam Chicksen before the Dons broke the deadlock in the second half.
And Alexander believes the scoreline flattered the visitors, who are looking to hunt down second-placed Preston.
The Town boss said: “I thought 3-0 was extremely harsh on us.
“You could see the firepower they’ve got at their disposal, but in general terms I thought we were quality.
“I saw so many positives. I think about what’s to come from that team and I’m optimistic about what I see.”
“We spoke about getting in their face and being on the front foot, and the lads did that and made it difficult for them. I thought there were a lot of players who could be very proud of what they showed against a very good team.
“The future is bright for a lot of those young boys.”
Town missed key chances at key times, not least when Evans ballooned a close-range shot over the bar following a superb driving run by skipper for the night Sarcevic.
The Dons took the lead minutes later and Alexander added: “It’s the the first occasion we’ve missed chances at key times.
“It’s something we need to address over the next three games and over the summer, if we can.
“I feel our general play this season has been decent. Our defensive strength has been there but we haven’t scored the goals we’ve deserved.
“It ends up costing you points as it has on this occasion. But look at my players’ ages and their potential – and we still have others to come into the teaml.”
MK’s Alli is Tottenham-bound for £5m, while fellow scorers Baker and Gregg are on loan, from Chelsea and Brentford respectively.
Alexander insists his young guns are good enough to rub shoulders with such company. He said: “They are a good team. The manager has four or five years’ experience at this level. They are a match for anyone.
“But you could put a few of our young players in that team and they’d be comfortable in it.
“Fortunately they are our players and we’re excited to be working with them. We think they’ve got great potential.”
But the manager made clear he won’t accept defeats while his young players find their feet.
“We want to win games while we’re developing our side,” he said. “We have got an idea of where we want to go to and how we want to do it. We don’t want this season to be remembered as a damp squib.
“If we win a few more points we’ll finish in a great position, which we deserve to.
“We want to justify our season in the next three games.
“We are devastated because it killed off any hopes of sneaking in there. But I know they’ll come back in training and be ready for Doncaster.”