If you cast your mind back just eleven years to the end of the 2008/09 season, Manchester United had secured another Premier League title, Barcelona won the Champions League and Fleetwood Town finished 8th in the Conference North.
Fast forward to today and they are currently 7th in League One; occupying the final playoff place. It has been a meteoric rise for the North West club and they look like they are not going to stop. Some feel they have hit their ceiling and cannot go any higher than League One after spending five seasons in the third tier and experienced two seasons of mid-table finishes.
Despite finishing 4th in 2016/17 they failed to progress in their play-off semifinal against Bradford City. However, this season they seem to be on a straighter track with manager Joey Barton who is enjoying life by the seaside.
Barton is currently in his second season with the Cod Army and has improved on last season’s showing as he has made them more defensively aware. In the past nine games, they have kept five clean sheets. The defensive partnership of Harry Souttar and Lewis Gibson has become a tough opponent to crack and provided goalkeeper Alex Cairns plenty of protection.
Although they have been defensively strong they are struggling to score more than one goal in a game. In the past five games, they have scored just one goal in four of those games. Even though they have won three of those games and grabbed an important draw against Sunderland, Barton will be wanting more from his strikers to kill the game off. This was evident against Sunderland who were able to grab a late draw because Fleetwood could not get that vital second goal.
Another important thing for Fleetwood fans to remember is they have a game in hand on Sunderland and Wycombe who are above them. With the game against Tranmere Rovers, the game in hand it is a great opportunity for Fleetwood to put pressure on the top three.
With a derby on the weekend against Blackpool, it is an ideal opportunity for Fleetwood to nail down their credentials of being playoff contenders. Despite the gap being close in the play-off places and close in the top two automatic places, Oxford United and Peterborough United are hot on the tails of Fleetwood. Both teams would be more than happy if the heated atmosphere would affect Fleetwood’s playing style.
As stated it is very close at the top and looks like it will go down to the final game of the season to decide who gains automatic promotion and who will have to slug it out in the play-offs but Fleetwood will want to make sure they are in the play-offs. If they continue their good solid form then you can expect to see them contending for a place in the Championship on 25th May.