FLEETWOOD boss Graham Alexander warned there was no room for complacency as another shocking first-half display saw Town beaten by relegation-threatened Plymouth Argyle, writes ROB STOCKS.
Alexander was furious at his players’ lack of competitive spirit. He said: “I’m not going to create a divide and say it’s them and us because I’m part of that team as well. We talk about having to earn the right to win every time you win and you have to do that.
“I never played in a game where I didn’t have to earn that right to win. We didn’t do that in the first half today. But we were 2-0 down already.
“We prepare the same for each game the same whether it’s Accrington at the bottom or Gillingham at the top. We have to get a group of players who don’t think they just have to turn up.
“We have to demand better from ourselves and from the people around us.”
Town were slow out of the blocks and created few chances in the opening 45 minutes – struggling to keep possession and allowing Argyle too many openings.
Alexander said: “I just though we were waiting for something to happen instead of making something happen. No disrespect, we have to come to sides who are bottom of the league and take the game to them. We didn’t do that. I thought we sat back and waited and we got punished.
“Even at 2-0 I still felt we just had to improve our work effort and attitude and we could get back in the game. We scored a goal and we had chances after that but games change on chances taken and not taken.”
And the manager made it clear his side had been the architects of their own downfall.
He said: “It was a game going nowhere until we shot ourselves in the foot. There was some poor defending and that lets Plymouth in for a couple of poor goals. And then second half we decide to compete properly. Then we bossed the game, we created loads of chances but because we’re two goals down we snatch at those chances.”
Following another defeat against a struggling side, Alexander had a clear message. “Whether we’re guilty of underestimating our opponents, you’ll have to ask the lads,” he said.
“I hope not. We have to drill home the message we are playing competitive teams week in, week out and whether at the bottom or the top anyone can beat anyone. The team, the players, myself, we have to know that whoever we play against we have to compete.
“If we don’t do that we’re not good enough. We started to compete at half time, that’s 45 minutes too late. We’ve wasted half a game of football here. We’ve wasted a chance to stay in touch.”
Victory for Exeter City extends the gap between Fleetwood and the playoff places and Alexander knows time is running out for Town.
“It’s another three points dropped so close to the end of the season so we have eight games left. We have to go looking for maximum points in all of them. Our outlook won’t change. We take each game on an individual basis but we are realists. The gap hasn’t got any smaller. But for our own professional pride we have to win as many games as we can. I’m never going to accept going into any game and not working as hard as we can for the three points.”
Plymouth’s first came from the penalty spot after Alan Goodall pushed Conor Hourihane.
Whether or not he believed the spot kick should have been given, Alexander was angry at the way Fleetwood had defended.
“Whether it was a penalty or not we were on the wrong side of our man and that’s a mistake we can’t make.”