Fleetwood Town are currently enjoying an impressive run of form under Joey Barton, as they look to mount a promotion push during the final stages of the campaign.
Barton’s side secured another vital three points in a 1-0 win at an out of sorts Ipswich Town on Tuesday, and that win lifted Fleetwood up into sixth place in the League One table with a game in hand on most of the teams above them, which puts them in a very strong position to achieve a top six finish.
Given Fleetwood have managed to get themselves into the play-off places at this stage of the season, Barton’s side would be frustrated were they to miss out on finishing inside the top six in League One, and there could be a few factors that will need to go there way to avoid them suffering a loss of form.
Here then, we take a look at THREE factors that’ll define Fleetwood’s season in the run in…
Whether they can keep key players fit
Fleetwood have been fortunate with injuries over the last few weeks, with Barton being able to keep his most important players fit and name a settled side over the last month or so, which has enabled them to maintain their momentum.
Barton once again was able to call on an unchanged side at Ipswich, with even Fleetwood’s older midfield generals Paul Coutts and Glenn Whelan again operating at the heart of their midfield – and that was helped by their game away at Tranmere Rovers last weekend having been postponed.
However, as the season heads towards the business end, Fleetwood will be needing to ensure that they keep their key players, with Paddy Madden, Wes Burns, Lewis Coyle and Danny Andrew in particular vital players to keep fit – and were some of those to suffer injuries it could really derail their form.
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Whether they can sustain recent form
Fleetwood’s win at Ipswich in midweek means that Barton’s side have now gone ten League One matches without defeat, and they have managed to win six out of their last seven matches in the league – and if that run continues they could even manage to secure automatic promotion.
However, Fleetwood will be facing some big tests in the coming weeks, with Barton’s side travelling to Portsmouth and hosting Rotherham United before the end of March – and the outcome of those two matches in particular could well determine whether they are able to keep their momentum and secure a top six finish.
It will also be vital that Fleetwood do not suffer any complacency in games against teams lower down the league, who you would expect Barton’s side to be picking up three points against – and their attitude to those types of fixtures could determine whether they are able to maintain and even extend their unbeaten run in the league.
Whether they can sustain fine defensive form
One of the main reasons why Fleetwood have managed to go on such a strong run of form in the last month or so, has been their ability to keep their opponents from creating many clear cut chances, with Barton’s side having protection in midfield from Whelan and Coutts and also strong performances from their defenders.
That has seen Fleetwood ship just four goals in their last nine League One matches, and has seen Alex Cairns record five clean sheets during that period, which has provided a real platform for Barton’s side to pick up points on a consistent basis.
Barton’s side will be tested defensively from now until the end of the season, and their promotion prospects could be determined by how well they manage to maintain their form at the back, with Fleetwood not really blowing teams away and scoring loads of goals during their ten match unbeaten run.