Kilmarnock 3 Fleetwood Town 1
Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander insists the goals will come despite his side’s tough pre-season continuing with defeat at Kilmarnock.
Town were behind within three minutes at Rugby Park, pulling level through Amari’i Bell before former Rangers striker Kris Boyd and a late strike from Chris Johnston gave the Scottish Premier League side their victory.
Town have lost every one of their warm up fixtures - Alexander having set his men a tough challenge as they prepare for the new campaign.
And there’s likely to be no let up in the hard work for Fleetwood and their new recruits with Burnley and Getafe heading to Highbury this week.
But despite a tough July for Town, Alexander is far from downbeat, insisting there are plenty of positives to take from the performances he has seen.
“You have to look beyond the result,” he said.
“I was impressed with the way we played and the chances we created.
“We had a lot of real clear cut chances from our interplay. The disappointing aspect of it is that we conceded three sloppy goals.”
One thing the Town boss did admit was that some of his charges had work to do to be ready for the new term which kicks off in less than two weeks.
He said: “We’ve got a players who are really up to speed and are doing excellent, and we’ve got a couple who are not up to speed.
“We’ve got a strong squad but I felt in certain instances just at the vital moment we let ourselves down a bit.”
But he has been pleased with the way his new-look midfield and attacking lines have progressed in pre-season, hailing the Kilmarnock performance as their best yet.
Alexander said: “I thought in general that’s the best we’ve played for quite a while. It was definitely the game where we created the most chances.
“I know the goals will come because I can see the work ethic of the players, and they’re getting into great positions.”
Fleetwood had plenty of opportunities to put the game to bed but Kilmarnock came to bite back as Boyd added his second before Chris Johnston sealed the win late on for the Scottish Premiership outfit.
Alexander named Conor McLaughlin as a centre half for the match, alongside Nathan Pond.
New signing Lyle Della-Verde started as a left winger, with native Declan McManus up front alongside Jamie Proctor.
On an artificial surface at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock drew first blood with just three minutes on the referee’s watch.
Experienced frontman Boyd, formerly of Rangers, pounced in the penalty box following some slow defending to tap home.
Fleetwood didn’t let their heads drop in front of a strong following from Lancashire and targeted an immediate response.
Scottish U21 international McManus escaped his marker to strike a low effort towards goal which whistled wide of the far post.
Della-Verde was next at it moments later. The winger utilised his pace to beat the Killie defence but his low cross into the penalty box couldn’t find one of the red shirts waiting.
The former Fulham winger was it again on the quarter hour mark, forcing a good save from goalkeeper Jamie McDonald.
Fleetwood’s persistence paid dividends with 25 minutes on the clock as summer signing Bell grabbed his first goal for the Club.
The quick full back made a clever overlapping run to collect Proctor’s through ball on the left and calmly fired past the keeper to the delight of the travelling support.
Fleetwood were really cranking up the gears and on the half hour mark, should have turned the game completely around.
A last ditch save from the goalkeeper denies McManus from point blank range, and on the follow up Tyler Forbes scuffed an effort wide.
At the break Pond was replaced by Jordan - Town continuing their pressure and nearly grabbing an early advantage.
Forbes had an initial shot saved by the goalkeeper and Proctor was on hand with the follow up but volleyed well wide of the mark from a great position.
Antoni Sarcevic then dragged a chance wide - misses Fleetwood were left to rue
With 20 minutes to play, Kilmarnock went back ahead, a cruel blow to Fleetwood as Boyd grabbed his second of the match with a tidy finish from a tight position,
Kilmarnock sealed their victory with five minutes to play, another moment of slack defending allowing Johnston to fire home.