Sam Ricketts reflects on Town’s frustrating afternoon at the Montgomery Waters Meadow after suffering a three-nil defeat to Joey Barton’s Fleetwood Town.
Town suffered their first home league defeat of the season despite starting the game on top. Fleetwood took control of the game in the second half ensuring Town were left empty handed.
To summarise the afternoon, Sam said: “I’m bitterly disappointed because I thought we started the game well. I thought we were on top for the first 20 to 30 minutes. We had two, three, four decent chances, as Goss made the keeper work and made him make a good save right at the start and then the following corner, we had a good chance, wide free-kick we had a chance, wide through ball’s flying across the box and we didn’t take any of them. Then we concede a goal off a set-piece against the run of play and it knocked the stuffing out of us, and it shouldn’t do.
"We just spoke a lot about it after the game and for a team that came here who we fancied being a decent side, we were certainly the best team up until their goal. We just didn’t score, and we can’t rely on having to score in those times. You have to have the mindset that if you do concede you carry on going on with the same belief and it didn’t help Ethan having to go off injured just before half-time. We had two or three others who were struggling, not at it and ultimately we’ve ended the game really disappointed.”
Town’s first half performance was strong, and they had many chances but were unlucky to not find the net. However, Town came out second half struggling, and Fleetwood became the team on top. Sam reflects on Town’s second 45 minutes of play. “We couldn’t get going, we couldn’t shake it off, we spoke inside as were all very honest, and we were saying for a number of reasons we couldn’t get on it, too many players off it and couldn’t spark the team. It’s a strange one because you watched the game as much as I did, and it’s easy to forget the first half when you’ve watched the second half but for the first 20, 30 minutes we started on top. We moved the ball really well and we had good chances and good opportunities to score and we really have to start taking them, especially when you’re against a decent side.”
Town had many decisions not go their way today which ended in frustration. “Actually, I thought the referee lost control of the game, I’ve never really seen someone manipulated as much as that.”
The 90 minutes consisted of two contrasting halves from Town with lots to admire within the first half, whereas in the second half, Town struggled to find chances. Town’s first chance in the second half came in the 90th minute after substitute Shaun Whalley struck a shot towards goal. “Second half, we couldn’t get going. Fleetwood managed the game second half really well; we never got any flow to it. I can remember speaking to the fourth official eight minutes into the second half and the ball had been out of play for four minutes. We like to play with a bit of rhythm and tempo and get the ball moving and we weren’t able to do that because of the game being such stop, start. A minute to take a goal kick, a throw-in, two minutes to take a free-kick.”
Sam was forced into making a first-half substitute today as defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell went off with a hamstring injury. “It’s not great, he actually played with that injury last week at Rotherham as well. We tried to nurse him through it and he wanted to play which is the best thing but in hind sight, maybe shouldn’t have done. But then he played last week and was excellent so for him not to go again this week it would’ve been a difficult decision to make when a player of his quality. He started the game really well, he was really good on the ball, and he’s certainly a loss for us. It’s his hamstring. So, we’ll just have to see and assess this now and see how long it takes. We’ve obviously got the game next Saturday, and then The Leasing.com and then without the Bury game it gives us a little bit of time, but we need to get all the players back up to full fitness as quick as we can.”
During the second half, Sam made some changes throughout the game and with a change of formation in order to get some attacking players on the pitch. “Changed for attacking reasons but also because of Ro-Shaun struggling as well, so we chose to go to a back four but when you do that, you’re losing a little bit of rhythm and understanding when you change shape during a game especially something we’ve not really worked on, 4-3-3. I wanted to get some attacking players on the pitch and get a goal and see from there. I didn’t want to leave myself short going into the last 20 minutes with a few more players that might be struggling. Aaron Pierre played second half and we’re rushing him to get on the bench today, someone who’s basically just trained yesterday. All these little things didn’t help but it didn’t mean we didn’t start the game well because we started the game really well, didn’t score, and then lost a bit of belief and momentum after conceding the goal and not being able to find any rhythm second half.”
“I looked at today’s game as a this is a great opportunity for us, at home, and the game started that way. I can remember thinking, 10, 20, 30 minutes into the game we’re doing well here, we’re getting chances but we just couldn’t put any of them away and when you are on top you have to put them away because as a team we’ll only grow with that and we can go and improve another 10% and possibly the big one is because we still are so many new players all still coming together. Maybe that belief isn’t there yet, although we have done it in other games where we go behind, and we go it’s alright we just keep going and keep doing the same things and come back in but that will certainly come with time.”
Town are 10 games into 2019/20 season now. Sitting 12th in the Sky Bet League One table with 13 points on the board. “We’re mid tables, it’s been a steady, solid start. Winning today would’ve been a very good start. That’s why today was such a game to look forward to. The game for the first half an hour I was really pleased with how we were playing. We just didn’t score. Solid start, we’re usually different than how we were in game one. Personnel wise, new signings, and players back from injury and this will only improve the longer we go on.”