Peter Clarke believes that having a group of players prepared to have a go at each other “for the greater good” will be beneficial to Fleetwood Town.
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Town’s players voiced their frustrations on the pitch and later in the dressing room following Oxford United’s 33rd-minute equaliser at Highbury last Saturday.
They were not happy with the defending for the goal. Paddy Madden, who had given Fleetwood the lead, and Josh Morris were heard remonstrating with debutant Jimmy Dunne, while players also spoke out at half-time.
Clarke started alongside Dunne in defence and he says Town need to iron out their issues at the back to pick up clean sheets.
They have kept only one ahead of this weekend’s visit to Southend United, though they do head south on the back of a victory after Clarke’s winner against the U’s. Joey Barton’s side sit fourth in the table and Clarke says some honest criticism of each other can only drive up standards.
Of Elliott Moore’s goal for Oxford, Clarke said: “It is really frustrating. I don’t think they had many opportunities and I think they scored from their first chance.
“It is really disappointing but we will iron things out this week, look at the video as a group of players and staff.
“We’ll try to right those wrongs and make sure that does not happen too often over the course of the season.
“One or two strong words were spoken at half-time. That happens in dressing rooms. It is never anything personal – it is for the benefit of everyone to get a good result.
“There is a real strong mentality. It’s a real group of players happy to have a pop at each other for the greater good.
“I think we saw the benefits of that in the second half, when we dominated and got the second goal.”
Clarke says Town’s ability to beat stubborn opposition like Oxford is evidence of that strong mentality.
He added: “We played some excellent stuff and dominated the game in large parts, but nobody is going to give us anything.
“They came and made it difficult for us, and to get ourselves in front was great.
“It was frustrating to get pegged back but to go on and win the game shows the mentality of the group.
“When times get tough and you come up against stubborn opposition, there are plenty within our group who want to keep going and push for the win.”