Jamie Grimes picked up plenty of man of the match votes as he returned from injury and then overcame illness to help Fleet to a point at Eastleigh.
And the 28-year-old defender echoed his manager’s thoughts when he said the disappointment of a draw away from home shows the progress made by the Fleet squad.
“It shows where we are with our performances now and our expectations,” he told BBC Radio Kent’s Charles Webster. “We’ve come a long way under the gaffer and we expect to come here and win. And you can see the disappointment in us when we do draw because we feel like we should be winning games the way we’re playing and the belief that’s in the squad now.”
Grimes, who had felt unwell before boarding the coach to Eastleigh, played 90 minutes at left-back but came through it with top marks in a game that had an exciting climax.
“It was a mad game and very end to end in the second half,” he said. “But we’re very disappointed to come away with just a draw. We started playing some good football. We did say about them playing three at the back with their wing backs that we could overload them outside and we did that. The goal was a little bit against the run of play and it took the stuffing out of us and in the end we’re disappointed to come away with a draw.”
The summer signing certainly had a view of the Eastleigh goal as Tyrone Barnett and Scott Rendell raced through across the pitch from him and he felt the lack of an offside flag was questionable at the time.
“We felt the same on the pitch [as everyone did off it],” said Grimes. “We couldn’t understand how he’s not given [offside] but we’ll have to watch it back and see. It’s a strange one. The lino’s seen something that we haven’t but until we’ve seen the video, we can’t say anything about the linesman.”
The penalty misses captured the headlines and the players were understandably dejected to let slip the extra points but as for Grimes, there was a bonus in Fleet’s much-improved defence against set pieces.
“Like we said in the dressing room, we’re never going to get a better chance of winning a game away from home,” he said. “But the lads have stood up to take a penalty, it’s a brave thing to do when you need to win. But these things happen, you miss penalties. The impressive thing at the end, to be fair, was that we did dig in on the set pieces to not let them score so we’ll take the point away from home where we are [in the table].”
There’s no points at stake next weekend as Fleet take a break from the league to visit Enfield Town in the FA Trophy but with the festive fixtures just around the corner, Grimes knows there can be no let-up – either against Enfield or in thee league clashes to follow.
“Any team that gets to this stage [of the Trophy] has done well but it’ll be nice to take our minds off the league and go and enjoy the game and hopefully get through to the next round,” he said. “Then it’s massive at Christmas. It always is at any level, if you can have a good Christmas period and string some results together, it can change a season so we’ll be eyes on the ball for that.”