Fleetwood Town boss Steven Pressley has demanded a response from his players after their ‘poor’ performance at Walsall in the crunch survival clash against Crewe on Sunday.
Fleetwood could have ‘finished the job’ if they had picked up a point at the Banks’s Stadium on Monday but they now face a one-off ‘cup final’ at Highbury against already relegated Crewe to try and beat the drop by bagging a point that will ultimately send neighbours Blackpool, who are two points behind them, down to League Two.
Town’s superior goal difference should ensure that Doncaster Rovers, who are three points behind them, are relegated
And Pressley says his men need to show more desire and courage if they want to maintain their League One status when they face Crewe on the final day of the season.
He said: “It was a disappointment for everybody because we are much better than that.
“I know we are much better than that, the players know we are much better than that but it is all about the reaction (on Sunday).
“It is all about ensuring that we see the job through and then hopefully if we do that we will be building for next year.
“It was just a poor performance, especially when the Sky cameras are here and we have a good travelling support, we needed to give them more than that.
“I will have a look back on the game and have a look at a number of things.
“The biggest thing is that we show the mentality on Sunday, that we show the desire, the courage and we give a much better performance than we did at Walsall.”
Pressley says Town did not defend to their normal standards as Tom Bradshaw, Paul Downing and Romaine Sawyers gave the hosts a deserved 3-0 lead within the opening 60 minutes on Monday.
Devante Cole scored his first goal for Fleetwood in the dying stages as they lost 3-1 on the day that captain Nathan Pond overtook 1950s centre-half Jack Ainscough’s all-time appearance record by making his 422nd appearance for the club.
And Pressley says they have a big week ahead as they prepare for the key Crewe clash.
He said: “You can always stop (goals).
“I didn’t think as a team we defended in our normal manner.
“We are a team that gives up very few chances but we gave up far to many at Walsall.
“It will be a big week for us, we are going to work hard on the training ground and we have to make sure we give a performance (against Crewe).”
And Pressley said there was not any standout performances at Walsall, that it was just a poor performance and that his players need to do better against Crewe.
He said: “I don’t think we had anyone who stood out at Walsall.
“It was a poor performance from us as a team and individuals and we have to do better than that.”
With striker Wes Burns missing due to a hamstring injury, young attacking midfielder Nick Haughton was given the nod up front alongside recalled striker David Ball with Stefan Scougall sitting just behind in a 4-3-1-2 formation.
It was only Haughton’s seventh start of the campaign as he replaced top scorer Bobby Grant, who dropped to the bench.
Grant, former Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi who is recovering from a hamstring injury and forward Ash Hunter were all unused substitutes at Walsall as Cole came off the bench to curl the ball home in the 84th minute.
And Pressley says he felt it was the right game for Haughton to return to the starting line-up after he had impressed in training, scoring four times for the development squad against Championship outfit Wolves last week and looking a threat in front of goal.
He said: “Nick has been training exceptionally well over a number of weeks.
“His performance in the development squad have been very good. He has looked a goal threat.
“By the way he has trained and played he has certainly put pressure on those around him and myself to play him and I felt it was the right game for him to start.”