Neal hopes hard work pays off

Neal - fine stops
Neal - fine stops
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Chris Neal highlighted an important issue for Fleetwood Town to tackle in training this week – dealing with second balls.

The Town number one shone at Bolton last weekend, pulling off a number of fine stops, including a sharp double save.

However, Bolton won 2-1 after overturning David Ball’s opener for Town – and speed of reaction to the second ball was a factor.

First, Amri’i Bell cleared David Wheater’s header off the line but Gary Madine was first to the rebound and fired home.

Then Conor Wilkinson’s header across the box dropped fortuitously to Kaiyne Woolery before Josh Vela steamed in to scored the winner.

And Neal says that being first to such rebounds and ricochets is something Town are working on ahead of Saturday’s trip to Southen.

The 30-year-old former Shrewsbury and Port Vale keeper said: “What we have been told is that second balls in this league are the ones that we need to concentrate on.

“Unfortunately we did not do that at Bolton, but we are work on that on the training ground this week and for the rest of the season.

“But Uwe Rosler (head coach) told us to keep our heads up as there is no point sulking about it.

“We put in a good performance at Bolton. We have not been outplayed and we move on to the next game.

“The most important thing is the team, but personally it was good to pull off some saves at Bolton.”

Neal is encouraged to see his new club playing without fear this season.

He added: “We went to Bolton with nothing to fear and I think that showed.

“We were disappointed not to come away with any points – we should have at least come away one.

“I think we showed against Leeds (in the EFL Cup-tie which Town lost on penalties) that we don’t fear anyone.

“The manager has instilled that in us and all the coaching staff.

“It means that when we are going away to some of the bigger clubs in the league, like Bolton and Charlton, we are not fearing anything.”

Neal is expecting a physical test at Southend tomorrow, similar to the one he experience on his debut in the 1-1 draw at Northampton on the opening day.

The St Albans-born keeper, who began his career at Preston, added: “We move on now and we have a big game again on Saturday.

“I’m expecting a similar game to the one at Northampton.

“They have quite a small pitch and are a physical team – that is how they look to play.

“It is going to be a tough game but we have a full week to prepare and we will go there looking to pick up some points.”