Barton felt Cod Army were 'arguably the better side' during Luton defeat

Andrew Shinnie is fouled by Fleetwood defender Jason Holt on Saturday
Andrew Shinnie is fouled by Fleetwood defender Jason Holt on Saturday

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton felt his team had been ‘arguably the better side’ during their 2-1 defeat to Luton at the weekend.

The hosts, who had gone into the game on the back of successive wins, seemed intent on producing a physical display for long periods, to try and knock Town out of their stride, but Hatters stood firm, superb out of possession, restricting the Cod Army to just four shots on target.

To the neutral, Mick Harford's table-toppers ran out deserved winners on the day, always having that bit of extra class about their play on the ball, however, Barton clearly saw it differently, saying: “The performance was really, really pleasing considering that they are on a long unbeaten run sitting top of the pile.

“You don’t do that at this stage of the season by luck. They’re a very good side, very well organised and a side that everybody in the division is aiming at.

“Anybody at the game will know we are moving in the right direction without a shadow of a doubt barring a mistake and a wonderful bit of quality from their boy from the free-kick.

“We were arguably the better side, created more opportunities, controlled certain phases of the game really, really well and played some good stuff.

“So, whilst I don’t feel we were as good as we can be. You have to take into account a really good opposition who obviously can disrupt you, but I thought out performance is fitting with how we’ve been over the last five or six weeks.

“Saying that, it’s disappointing to lose a game of football.”

George Moncur's wonderful free kick and an error from home keeper Alex Cairns from Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu's 25-yarder were the difference, as Barton did concede that the Hatters, who are now clear at the top, will go on to be playing in the Championship next term.

He continued: "We are aiming to be a side like Luton Town and do what they’ve done so far this season.

"I’d expect them to go on and seal automatic promotion over the next couple of months, but it was a good test for us to see where we are as a club and where we are as a team.

"Goals five minutes before half-time and five minutes after, especially when you’re knocking at the door are disappointing.

"You’ve got to police them zones and certainly at the start and finish of halves as it’s vital to winning leagues and winning promotion.

“They are a side that’s settled, a side that’s really into their flow in terms of confidence and momentum but if you came into the stadium you wouldn’t think that was the case.

"It was a very evenly matched contest and the one who got the first goal was probably the more likely to go on to win it.

“But I thought the lad’s response to that was excellent, we are probably unlucky in the end. Paddy Madden thinks he should have hit the last chance over his shoulder first time.

“So disappointed with the result but really pleased with many aspects of the performance.

"We’ve got hard work to do but it’s re-affirmed to me that we are absolutely on the right track to what we want to achieve at this football club as a group.”