Joey Barton: Fleetwood Town must find ways to win clashes of style

Shrewsbury Town’s defensive approach may have frustrated Fleetwood in Saturday’s 2-2 draw but boss Joey Barton says that’s something his team will have to get used to at Highbury.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 6:00 am
Fleetwood's Callum Connolly played as a central defender against Shrewsbury Town

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Barton said: “When you play the way we do you earn that respect from the other sides in the division.

“We have to learn those lessons and you have to give the opposition credit on Saturday. They have defended their lines well and put bodies on the line, but we are growing nicely.

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“Last season we went 1-0 down and couldn’t get back into the game but now we don’t have that. We’ve gone behind twice but you know this group are going to keep coming back and keep going hard.

“It would be nice if we didn’t have to do that and could get that first goal, but that’s football.

“We have a young group learning and I love standing on the touchline watching them because they never give in. That’s all you can ask for as a manager.”

Barton said that selecting new signing Callum Connolly as a centre-half was designed to capitalise on the extra space available against a Shrews side who arrived with a defensive mindset.

The Town boss explained: “Teams drop off us because of Wes Burns’ pace and we know our centre-halves and midfielders get a lot of ball.

“Teams are going to sit and defend, so we will have loads of ball and I’d rather a defensive midfielder has it than another defender. Maybe another defender on there would have kept us a clean sheet but it didn’t last week (in the defeat at Burton Albion).”

The Shrews encounter was a clash of styles but Barton admitted the visitors’ opening goal by Shaun Whalley showed that a more direct, uncompromising approach can work.

Barton added: “They aren’t easy to play against. They don’t take any chances or try to play. It goes from back to front relatively quickly and it works for them.

“We don’t want to play that way but we maybe had to – for their first goal I said to Soutts (Harry Souttar), ‘You should have put the ball in row Z and probably with Couttsy (Paul Coutts) right behind it if he was in the way.’

“As a defender you have to take that responsibility but he’s a young lad learning his trade.”