GRAHAM GEARS UP FOR FINAL FURLONG
FLEETWOOD boss Graham Alexander is strapping himself in for a sprint finish to the promotion race after a comfortable victory over Oxford.
The Cod Army’s hopes were dealt a further boost as Chesterfield drew with Newport, meaning they are now three points off an automatic spot.
The win at the Kassam Stadium was never really in doubt once David Ball opened the scoring in the first half before Antoni Sarcevic’s fine second, and Oxford’s season is in real danger of petering out.
The U’s dropped out of the play-off places for the first time this season after a forlorn performance and new manager Gary Waddock has lost his first three games in charge without his team scoring.
Alexander said:“We’ve got five games to go and we need to win as many as possible to give ourselves the best chance.
“We want to get in that top three and this is a small step towards that – we’ve now got five big games to go and we’ll see where we are after those.
“I thought we bossed it in the first half especially and we could have scored before we did and when we got the goal we deserved it.
“We’d have loved a second before halftime to give us a bit of breathing space but that came in the second half with a great strike.”
Fleetwood created the first opening when Iain Hume laid the ball off to Sarcevic, whose low shot from the edge of the area was held by Ryan Clarke. The Cod Army deservedly went ahead when Sarcevic’s corner from the left went just in front of Mark Roberts but Ball was on hand to bundle the ball in at the back post from a couple of yards. The visitors should have extended their lead when Ball sent Hume through oneon-one but his tame effort was comfortably saved by Clarke.
But they finally did so early in the second half when Sarcevic brilliantly bent the ball into the top corner after a free-kick had been teed up for him.
Oxford were soon opened up yet again and they were rescued by Clarke when he kept out Hume’s effort from Conor McLaughlin’s chipped pass.
The life then went out the rest of the game somewhat with Fleetwood happy with their two-goal cushion and the U’s unable to pose enough of a threat.
Waddock said: “At the moment losing has become a habit – I don’t like that habit we have to turn it around very quickly.
“For the first 25 minutes we were in the game with Fleetwood but then they scored and I thought we deflated.
“You could see the confidence go and we don’t have a lot of that at the moment because of what we’ve had thrown at us.
“We have to address that and we have to be mentally stronger as well but we haven’t got a lot of time to put it right.“We have to make sure that we get back to winning ways quickly.”