Fleetwood Town's defensive efforts earn head coach's backing

Fleetwood Town boss Simon Grayson praised his side’s defensive record after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Rochdale.

Monday, 12th April 2021, 8:00 am

The Cod Army kept their sixth clean sheet in eight games and are building a strong foundation for next season.

Grayson’s charges boast the third best defensive record in League One, having conceded just 33 goals this term.

Only third-placed Sunderland (31) and league leaders Hull City (32) have shipped fewer than Town.

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Fleetwood Town made it consecutive wins on Saturday Picture: Stephen Buckley/PRiME Media Images Limited

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“You’ve got to have the right balance,” stressed Grayson, after Eoghan O’Connell’s own goal separated the two sides at Highbury.

“We want to make sure that we’re hard to play against when we’re out of possession, players put their bodies on the line and, fair play to them, they’ve done that.

“Callum Connolly’s in there with a broken nose, and at this stage of the season, it’s nice to see.

“I was a defender and you’d take great satisfaction in clean sheets, and to have that record is fantastic for the players.

“If you’re not playing too well with the ball and you’ve got opportunities that you might take, or fortune goes your way, a clean sheet allows you to win the game.

“If you get a clean sheet and you get that chance and take it, it’s a good place to be.”

Saturday’s match at Highbury was a scrappy game where both sides struggled to create meaningful chances.

Grayson made a tactical switch with Wes Burns, who impressed at AFC Wimbledon on Bank Holiday Monday, occupying a role further forward.

However, despite picking up all three points, for the second game running, Grayson knows his side could improve on the ball.

“I thought today was a game where we had to be on it out of possession,” admitted Grayson.

“We had to stop the opposition from playing.

“We changed the system because we thought it might be a way to win another football match, something different.

“It was a difficult game, the pitch was really lively and it wasn’t easy to pass the ball around.

“I thought we defended well, I don’t think Cairnsy’s (Alex Cairns) had a shot to save.

“It just shows you, if you keep clean sheets and score goals down the other end, then you’ve got a great chance of winning games.

“A lot of those were pleasing points for us.

“Of course we can be better with the ball, but at this stage of the season, it’s about results.

“Also, the pitches we’re playing on at the moment are not great and that can affect how you play sometimes.”

Town head to the table-topping Tigers on Saturday bidding to end their 10-game unbeaten run.

Grant McCann’s title chasers are full of confidence after back-to-back 3-0 wins against Northampton Town and Plymouth Argyle.

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