Fleetwood boss Joey Barton says: I was desperate to beat my pal Micky Mellon's Tranmere

Opening goalscorer Josh Morris in action against Tranmere
Opening goalscorer Josh Morris in action against Tranmere
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Fleetwood Town boss Joey Barton was delighted to get one over his good pal and former Cod Army favourite Micky Mellon.

READ MORE: Morris and Madden fire Fleetwood to victory over Tranmere
Barton guided his Fleetwood side to a hard-earned 2-1 victory over Mellon’s impressive Tranmere Rovers outfit at Highbury, with a goal in each half from Josh Morris and Paddy Madden.

The Cod Army are now back up to seventh in League One, only outside the play-off frame on goal difference.

Barton said: “We knew we would be made to work for that victory.

“Micky was always going to be desperate to come back and upset the apple cart.

“He’s obviously got a great affinity with our club, having been the manager who got them into the Football League. They’d had a really good win in the week at Wycombe in the FA Cup, so we knew they’d be buoyed with confidence, but we got a great opening goal and it was over to us then.

“There was a lack of quality from us at times and we didn’t get that second, third, fourth goal we needed to put Tranmere away. But we got there in the end.

“I was desperate to beat Mick, though. We’re good pals and his team gave a really good account of themselves. They pushed us all the way and gave us a thorough examination.

“Tranmere asked a lot of questions of our two centre-backs, Ash Eastham and Harry Souttar, but the response to it was first-class.

“But it’s three points at the end of the day and sometimes you have to win ugly.”

Morris got the Cod Army off to a flying start as he curled home a brilliant free-kick after Jordan Rossiter had been tripped on the edge of the Rovers box.

Both sides created a number of chances in what was at times a pulsating clash but the hosts didn’t add their victory-clinching second goal until eight minutes from the end.

Madden bagged it from 10 yards after Lewie Coyle’s cross hadn’t been cleared.

Rovers sub Paul Mullin touched home from close range to ensure a tense finish but the Cod Army hung on.

It was a red-letter day for 19-year-old young England youth international Crellin, who was granted his Football League debut and produced a confident display throughout.

Boss Barton added: “I think Billy’s a future England number one, if we police him correctly. He’s that good.

“I feel sorry for Alex Cairns because he has been outstanding and he was rightly disappointed, but we saw how well Billy played in the Barnet game (in the FA Cup two weeks earlier).

“We saw his calmness. He belies his young years. He’s only 19 but he’s probably got a 35-year-old head on him.

“He’s very composed, very calm and I thought he did everything really well.

“If we’re serious about developing young players, then we’ve got to create those opportunities for them when we feel they’re ready to go in.

“I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is. I’ve put him in today and thankfully he came out of it really well.

“This is another tip of the hat to the hard work done in the academy.”