Fleetwood don’t make it easy for manager Joey Barton against Port Vale
Fleetwood boss Joey Barton admitted his side put him through the mill despite booking their place in the Carabao Cup third round for the first time.
Goals from Paddy Madden and Josh Morris saw the Cod Army win 2-1 to earn a potential home clash with Premier League Everton.
But Daniel Whitehead’s second-half equaliser had put the League Two Valiants on course for a penalty shootout at the Highbury Stadium.
“My hair has gone a little bit greyer than it probably should have been,” joked Barton, whose side will face either Everton or Salford in the next round.
“I’m just pleased to win any game, but it’s always nice when they [the players] make it easier on the coach. Unfortunately we haven’t managed to do that this season.
“We’ve got to become more clinical in front of goal because, as the challenge gets higher and higher, you could play a Premier League side in the next round and you won’t get too many of those chances.
“It’s important you put those chances away, but there was some good goalkeeping as well from their keeper. We also hit the crossbar.
“We’re creating the chances, but we just want them to be a little bit more ruthless.”
Barton’s side narrowly missed out on promotion last season to the Championship, but his charges have started this campaign in style with four successive victories.
“It’s sometimes the case when you’ve hit the bar like we did in the play-offs last year, you have a hangover,” admitted Barton.
“But knowing the character of the group you expect them to respond in the correct manner. And we’ve won four out of four to start this competitive season, so I’m pleased.
“We’ve got a really good tough fixture against Peterborough on Saturday, away from home, who are a side that will be there or thereabouts because of their qualities.
“But we go there full of confidence looking to get another three points on the board.”
Valiants boss John Askey made 10 changes to his side despite the club trying to defend their longest unbeaten run for 19 games. Askey was pleased with the way his team acquitted themselves against their League One hosts.
“It’s nice when we can make 10 changes and still compete,” reflected Askey.
“When you see the side they’ve [Fleetwood] put out, then you’re thinking can we just keep it down to one or two goals we’d be happy. But we did more than that.
“We rode our luck in the first half a little bit, but in the second half we came out and gave it a real good go. It’s a shame we couldn’t have scored again having gone 1-1.
“I thought we created chances, but they obviously did as well. They’re going to be in and around it [the play-offs] this season, but it just shows we’re improving as a club.
“If we compete like that with 10 changes, then hopefully we’re going into League Two where we can more than match people. We wanted to keep our [unbeaten] run going, but it wasn’t to be tonight. But I don’t think we were going to win the cup.
“It’s been a really good workout for our players, we needed to get minutes into them. We’ll take confidence from that performance, it’s done us no harm.
“One of the reasons I made so many changes was that we’ve got Exeter away on Saturday. We’ve also had lads playing tonight who have not played much football and had injuries, so we’ll look forward to Saturday now and move on.”