Clean sheet worth the wait for Fleetwood Town's milestone man Alex Cairns

Joey Barton congratulates Alex Cairns on his 100th Fleetwood appearance at Alfreton
Joey Barton congratulates Alex Cairns on his 100th Fleetwood appearance at Alfreton

Alex Cairns has celebrated 100 games for Fleetwood Town and boss Joey Barton is pleased the keeper has a belated clean sheet to reward that achievement.

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Cairns, 25, could not manage a shutout in his landmark game, the 4-1 FA Cup first-round win at National League North club Alfreton Town.

But a week later Cairns helped Town to a 0-0 home draw with Walsall, their first clean sheet since the 4-0 win at Doncaster Rovers six weeks earlier.

Now as his squad prepares for a long trip to Plymouth on Saturday, Barton is happy for his shot-stopper.

The head coach said: “I’m pleased for Cairnsy, Ash Eastham, Lewie Coyle, Cian Bolger and James Husband because I felt they deserved a clean sheet for the way they applied themselves.

“It is nice for Al because it was his 100th appearance at Alfreton and to get that clean sheet is a nice bonus for him.

“No doubt the defence will celebrate that and the attacking lads will be a bit disappointed they have not put the ball in the back of the net against Walsall.”

Ched Evans, Ryan Taylor, Conor McAleny, James Wallace and Dean Marney are all returning from injury and Barton is pleased with the options he has in his squad now his injury woes are easing.

He said: “It is pleasing. You look round, and with Kyle Dempsey, Harrison Biggins and Ryan Taylor, who is coming back from that shoulder issue, we are starting to get there.”

James Wallace was not in the squad against the Saddlers but had played a full 90 minutes in the midweek Checkatrade Trophy defeat at Bury.

Barton explained: “James was probably not scheduled to play that long and we needed to look after them off the back of Bury.

“A four-day turnaround is not ideal to be involved on Saturday.

“He is a part of our team and has shown what a player he can be in the small number of games he has played.

“We are progressing nicely. The key for us is where the group were and where we are trying to get them.”