Joey Barton on draw at Rotherham: Fleetwood take step in right direction on the road

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton remained highly positive and saluted his play-off chasers despite conceding a late leveller away to fellow high-flyers Rotherham.

Monday, 23rd December 2019, 6:00 am
Ched Evans heads Fleetwood's opening goal at Rotherham Picture: CAMERASPORT
Ched Evans heads Fleetwood's opening goal at Rotherham Picture: CAMERASPORT

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Match verdict: Rotherham v Fleetwood Town

They couldn’t quite hold on to secure a first away Sky Bet League One victory since September, but Barton was hugely encouraged by a much-improved attacking performance on the road after three straight defeats.

The Cod Army remain in ninth place in the third tier, with games in hand on all of those above them.

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“We knew the qualities Rotherham have, of course,” said Barton.

“Obviously they only came out of the Championship last season and they’ve got players who can be matchwinners and can influence a game at League one level.

“We knew we wouldn’t be able to come here and sit back, so we went on the attack and I thought we were superb.

“The first-half performance for me was as good as we’ve played away from home in my time here.

“We were dominant. We passed the ball so well and we were probably a tad unfortunate not to go in at half-time with an even bigger lead.

“To come to a club as big as Rotherham are in our division and spend probably 43 of the first 45 minutes camped in their half was really, really pleasing.”

It was quite a thriller at the New York Stadium, with the Cod Army bossing the early stages.

Kyle Dempsey fired in a shot from 25 yards and thumped the base of a post before Evans bagged his first goal after 26 minutes.

He rose superbly to glance home a header from Lewie Coyle’s precise cross.

Millers hotshot Freddie Ladapo nodded home his seventh goal in six matches just past the hour, then Evans struck again a minute later, tapping home after punishing Matt Crooks’ error.

Crooks had the last word, however, making it 2-2 with barely 10 minutes to go as he lashed home a rebound after Billy Crellin failed to hold Adam Thompson’s shot.

Fleetwood had to settle for one point and Barton is looking to build on the club’s continuing ‘“feelgood factor” ahead of the next tough test – a trip to Rochdale on Boxing Day.

Barton added: “I said to the lads in the run-up to this game that our season kind of starts here.

“Everybody is jockeying for position, everyone seems to be beating everybody in this league and that’s been borne out again with the results today.

“We’ve just got to focus on us, though, and we’ve got to be a team who is capable of beating any other team.

“At this moment in time we have got that feelgood factor at home and I know we can beat anybody there.

“The challenge now is to build on that on the road.

“This result was definitely a step in the right direction towards achieving that.”