MARK Cooper didn’t deal out the hairdryer treatment to his Swindon Town players despite his side facing a 2-0 half-time deficit at Vale Park at the weekend and then saw his softly, softly approach pay huge dividends.
Goals from Doug Loft and Tom Pope handed Port Vale a handsome lead over Town at the break but Swindon came out in the second period and turned the game around with efforts from Nile Ranger, Alex Pritchard and Nathan Byrne.
Cooper revealed after the match that he restrained himself from laying into his squad at the interval, after watching them produce one of their better performances away from home this season. And the players proved him right by securing their first victory on the road since November 12.
“We said at half-time keep going because we were playing well and we were outstanding in the second half and totally dominated, and deserved to win the game,” he said.
“I think when you’ve got a lot of young players you can’t jump up and down and rant and rave because you’d frighten them to death. We just tried to encourage them to play football and we had the steel at the back with Troy and Darren. Nathan Thompson and Nathan Byrne were outstanding today.
“We knew we had a solid base behind us for the second half, although we conceded two goals. I don’t know how we conceded. Once we got the first we went from strength to strength.
“I think if you’re going to win at 2-0 down you need an earlier one. We had chances before that but we got a great one – a great ball from Pritch and a great header from Ranger. Then he goes through and he should equalise and hits the bar. We hit the post and you think it’s not going to come but obviously we keep playing and we get the goal.”
Cooper was particularly pleased with Pritchard, who operated in a wing role and played a part in all three goals. And he was delighted with the way his players adapted to the wet and windy conditions at Vale Park as well as a soft playing surface .
“He (Pritchard) doesn’t score them enough but he has the ability,” he said. “He gets us in the game at 2-2 with a free-kick and then there’s a great move and Byrney comes from left-back to get the winner.
“The two frontmen today were a real handful and if you ask the Port Vale defenders they’ll tell you they were a handful to play against. That’s what you want from your frontmen.
“We knew the conditions weren’t going to be great and it’s probably not ideal for the way we like to pass from the back through the midfield. We knew if we had a target today to play we off we could and that’s what we did.”