Joey Barton wants his Fleetwood Town side to end their strong 2019 at Highbury on a high against Bristol Rovers tomorrow, having finally turned their away form around.
After three straight defeats on the road in League One, Barton’s side have picked up four points from two games on their travels this Christmas and can now look forward to four home games in 10 days.
The 3-2 Boxing Day win at Rochdale left Town just a point adrift of the play-off zone and three behind second-placed Ipswich Town, with one or two games in hand on all six teams above them.
Barton said: “We now have a nice run of fixtures at home, where we’ve been really good in the calendar year.
“It would be nice to go out on a high on Sunday; our fans deserve that.
“Bristol Rovers have changed manager (Ben Garner lost his first game in charge at home to Wimbledon on Thursday) and no doubt the new manager will have them organised.”
The victory at Rochdale was Town’s first three-pointer away from Highbury since the 3-0 success at Shrewsbury in September and justified Barton’s policy of giving his players Christmas Day off.
He added: “We did it last year and beat Doncaster 3-0 on Boxing Day, and we did it this year and won again. We are now into a recovery phase and it’s game after game after game.
“The players know that Christmas and New Year for a footballer isn’t until May and June when the season is done.
“You need that discipline and it is hard when everyone is walloping the pigs in blankets, Yorkshire puds and stuffing.
“It’s hard to turn down those turkey sandwiches and leftovers in the evening but as a player you have to show that discipline and prepare to give energetic performances.
“We are in the hunt and that win will do us the world of good, especially backing up a really good performance at Rotherham last Saturday.
“We showed a different side of how to win. We had to come from behind and showed great character and endeavour to win.
“We should have got another goal when Paddy (Madden) should have passed, but you don’t get as many as he does without being greedy.”
“We won cup games at Barnet, Crawley and Everton, but we hadn’t won in three away in the league, and if you are chasing at the top end, you need credible away form.
“It doesn’t need to be win, win, win but you do need to be able to compete on your travels.
“The challenge to the boys is to replicate elements of the home form and the strength of performance away from home, and these two performances go a long way towards starting that.
“Hopefully the lads take confidence from these two performances and use them as a springboard into the New Year.”