Striker David Ball believes Fleetwood Town’s experience at the New York Stadium should serve as inspiration for next season’s promotion push.
Town played in front of a partisan crowd of more than 7,500 against promotion-chasing Rotherham, and the former Peterborough hitman insists it’s given him an appetite to enjoy the same week in, week out. It’s great to play in an atmosphere like that,” said Ball.
“I played in the championship last year and know all about it. It’s what every player aspires to – to go to grounds like that and play with that kind of noise around you.
“You’ve got to work really hard to achieve that and we know that’s what we want.”
For a number of Fleetwood’s players – six of Saturday’s starting 11 having played Conference football last term – it was a rare chance to savour the atmosphere of a big crowd but Ball believes his team-mates acquitted themselves well. He said: “There are a few players who have come up through the non-league and showed they can perform well in front of a big crowd at a big stadium.”
Fleetwood will, most likely, have to wait at least 12 months for a shot at League One football - the 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Millers left a five-point gap between Graham Alexander’s men and the last play-off spot. Just three wins in the last 14 games have seen Town fade away from the promotion pace – in start contrast to their opponents on Saturday, who are still in with a shout of grabbing the final automatic spot.
With only Chesterfield at home and AFC Wimbledon away to come this season, Ball is hoping Fleetwood can finish strongly to boost confidence ahead of the summer.
“You’ve got to finish well and take that into next season,” the 23-year-old said. “We’ve got to try to win our last two and that will set us up for the summer and beyond.”
Ball scored his third goal of 2013 at the New York Stadium, his fifth-minute strike cancelling out Daniel Nardiello’s opener. Ball said: “They got the goal early on. We got one straight back and after that it was a bit of a 50/50 game.
“They came on strong at the start of the second half for about 20 minutes and put a lot of pressure on our box. “It paid off and they’ve got the goal.
“After that we’ve gone up the other end and created one or two half-chances. We tried and tried but it’s a bit of a bad loss for us.”
Rotherham made life difficult for Fleetwood and it’s a performance Ball believes Fleetwood should learn from. “They’ve got all their men behind the ball and made us go long,” he said “That’s the way to see out games.”