Before their run of three fixtures in a week, Fleetwood Town were becoming something of a specialist in drawing matches; sharing the spoils in five of their previous seven matches.
However, a run of three straight wins has seen Joey Barton’s men transform those draws into maximum points to move within striking distance of the play-offs.
Barton’s side have put in an impressive run in their last three fixtures; victories over Wimbledon, Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough United means Fleetwood have catapulted themselves into 8th place – three points shy of sixth place Portsmouth with games in-hand on their play-off rivals.
The league position for the Cod Army is an overachievement irrespective of their club size and attendance figures. Fleetwood’s average home attendance is 3,006 ranking them third bottom of the attendance table, a statistic that makes the ship that Joey Barton is sailing for Town look more incredible.
Here, we look at the four talking points from Fleetwood’s past three League One encounters…
Barton’s change in system proving successful
Joey Barton has had issues identifying a consistent formation, previously switching between a 4-4-2 diamond narrow and a 4-3-3 formation.
But since Barton decided to switch to a five at the back in their victory over 2-1 Doncaster Rovers, Fleetwood have put together a run of four straight wins.
It is no coincidence that this system has been key to their recent run of form, the formation provides defensive security which allows for more variation in attack with Barton’s wing backs becoming an important component to their attacking success.
Paddy Madden is in fine form
Fleetwood forward Paddy Madden has found his feet in this new system by scoring two in his last three matches.
The 29-year-old was the match winner in Town’s 2-1 victory over Wimbledon and their 1-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers.
If Fleetwood are to get into the play-off places then Madden’s goals will be deciding factor, he has scored 15 of Fleetwood’s 46 league goals this season.
Capable of beating promotion contenders
In their run of three victories, Fleetwood put together a few surprising results by beating two promotion contenders; edging out third placed Wycombe Wanderers 1-0 and more recently, a 2-1 home victory over fourth placed Peterborough United.
Joey Barton will be pleased that his side have fended off two play-off challengers, however, stern tests are yet to come for the Cod Army.
Although Fleetwood have proven that they can dabble with the top sides in League One, their upcoming games against promotion rivals Portsmouth, Ipswich Town and Sunderland will determine whether they possess the firm promotion credentials.
Lewis Gibson key to defensive success
Although Paddy Madden will take the plaudits in Fleetwood’s attack, a key to their recent success has been their defensive performances.
Fleetwood made a switch to their defensive shape after the loan acquisition of Lewis Gibson from Everton, he has been an impressive performer operating at left centre back. Whilst the addition of Gibson into the side has provided extra defensive security, it has also enabled wing backs Danny Andrew and Lewie Coyle to push further forward.
Gibson has been a part of a defence that includes Harry Souttar and another Everton loanee, Callum Connolly. Their switch to a three at the back has been instrumental in their play-off charge after conceding only two in three matches.