Fleetwood boss Graham Alexander won’t underestimate the mental boost of last weekend’s late comeback at Bradford as he plans for Sunday’s historic derby day against Preston North End.
Town left it late to secure a share of the spoils against the Bantams, trailing 2-0 until the dying moments.
Goals from Jon Stead and Christopher Routis looked to have wrapped up all three points, but an 86th-minute header from Jamie Proctor, followed by Nathan Pond’s stoppage-time equaliser ensured Town didn’t cross the Pennines empty-handed.
And, following a 2-0 home reverse to Coventry City earlier in the week, Alexander believes the fightback was a vital display of his side’s ‘heart’.
He said: “If we’d have lost two on the trot and got nothing out of either game, it would have been a flat week for us leading up to a big match.
“We’ve got plenty of assets in our squad. We’ve got fitness and skill but we’ve got a lot of heart as well.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the players. They deserved it.”
Pond was the unlikely hero, finding the net for the first time since promotion to League One with a low drive from inside the box.
He knows the story of Saturday afternoon could have been so different.
Pond said: “We’re 2-0 down, and they’ve got the fans behind them making a lot of noise.
“It could have gone another way – it could have been three or four to Bradford.
“We all rolled our sleeves up and dug in, and once we got the goal we knew we were going to nick a point.”
The centre-half has now scored in seven different tiers of English football, a remarkable achievement for a man who started his Fleetwood Town journey in the North West Counties League.
But his focus wasn’t on personal achievements.
“It wasn’t just about my goal,” he said. “We have given two sloppy goals away but we responded superbly.
“At the end they were hanging on. Five minutes more and we could have got the winner.”
The equaliser itself was as much the result of Bradford’s panic as Fleetwood’s attacking force, the Bantams retreating into their own penalty area having conceded the first.
Fleetwood’s pressure ultimately paid off with a second goal which was scrappy – not that Pond cares
He said: “I remember Schuey (Steven Schumacher) lumping through, knocking a few over and tripping over the ball.
“After that I can’t remember. I just put my foot through it. That’s it really.”
Quietly, thoug,h the 30-year-old is keeping his goal tally ticking over. “It’s 51 and counting,” Pond joked.
“I’ve not scored for a while, so it’s good to get that one and be back in the goals.”
Pond held back special praise for the 19-year-old wing-back who kick-started Town’s revival, a man who may have a major part to play in this weekend’s derby.
“Tyler Forbes was superb, going to an intimidating place like Bradford,” said Pond.
“He’s put a great ball in. Jamie Proctor’s done the rest and it’s got us going.
“As soon as that’s gone in Bradford are on the back foot and we’ve got a bit of momentum.”