Midfielder Michael Corcoran drew praise from boss Steve Brown after putting in his second 90-minute shift in three days. The 26-year-old has started 11 league games this season but hadn’t played a full game since January. That didn’t stop the former Rushden player from producing two combative performances as Fleet earned a maximum six points.
“There was no way you could plan for this game today with the game Thursday night,” Brown told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “What’s nice about now is we’ve got two training sessions to have before the game next Saturday which means we can control the work the players do. They’re all out there after the game stretching properly, taking the right drinks on board, but then it’s down to them to rest because there were some really tired players out there today.
“Dean Rance is one of the fittest players you’ll find but he’s on his last legs. Michael Corcoran’s played two nineties in three days after not doing 90 minutes in I can’t remember how long, three or so months. It was a brilliant effort from him today. And I bring Thalassitis in and he runs his socks off.”
“I knew fitness-wise it was going to be a struggle for us and that had an impact on the game. The pleasing thing for me is that we showed a resilience again today. I don’t really mind what anyone says about the performance but when you analyse the chances and how many they had and how many we had… We should have scored at the end with the best move of the game, earlier Ben May’s unlucky with his touch and turn that’s whisked the top of the bar and there were more chances than that. They were good chances so I felt that although the performance wasn’t as scintillating as Thursday night, the result was even more important than Thursday night.”
Brown also explained his reshuffle in midfield, with Daryl McMahon playing wider and Corcoran keeping his place in the side. “Everyone keeps talking about our shape but really it’s still a 4-4-2,” Brown said. “Daryl has a bit of a license on either wing and he can tuck inside if he feels like it, if he thinks he’s going to get more joy doing that. Or he can play wide, but it’s still in essence 4-4-2.
“I’m still playing two strikers every game and a four-man midfield. It’s just trying to free Macca up to get on the ball a bit . I went with a bit more experience today with Corcoran and McMahon in the same midfield because as much as I have put this squad together myself, it’s a very young squad so sometimes you need to draw on the experiences of players who have been there and done it. I felt over the last two games, the experience of being in this situation across their careers counted for an awful lot.”
And the Fleet boss was under no illusions about the importance of these last seven days in his side’s season, coming as they have off the back of one of their most disappointing performances. “From last Saturday evening looking at the table, we knew we had a tough away game – Gosport had beaten Bishop’s Stortford at home – and this home game and we wanted six points. It wasn’t four or three, it was six and that squad’s gone and got them which has given us a really good cushion.”