SWINDON Town suffered a miserable double blow last night, as they were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on penalties and learned that striker Nile Ranger could be out of action until the end of the season through injury.
Massimo Luongo and Tijane Reis missed from the spot as Peterborough United secured their passage to Wembley at the County Ground following a 1-1 draw over 90 minutes, which left the tie locked at 3-3 on aggregate.
That was a bitter pill to swallow but it got worse for Robins fans after the game when Mark Cooper revealed he is to be without talismanic striker Ranger for between eight and 12 weeks.
Ranger is due in court on a rape charge, which he denies, in Newcastle on February 24 and may have missed a week of action prior to picking up the knock in Friday night’s goalless draw with Colchester United.
However, it is possible that Swindon will now be missing the frontman for the rest of their League One campaign.
“He’s had a scan,” said Cooper. “He’s got a grade three hamstring tear, which I have been told is anything between eight and 12 weeks out.”
When asked whether he would consider bringing in a new forward to make up for Ranger’s absence, Cooper said: “We’ve got one – Michael Smith.”
Alex Pritchard opened the scoring for Swindon last night only for Britt Assombalonga to force penalties following a mistake by Jacob Murphy.
“We had a spell for 10 minutes in the second half where we looked tired, we made one mistake in the game and it led to a goal,” said Cooper. “That was a mistake for a young player, he’ll learn from that. I was proud of the players, they gave everything, we played some good football, we were deservedly in front at half-time and we could have killed the game after half-time but it wasn’t to be.”
Cooper was once again disappointed by the standard of refereeing, with match official Keith Stroud failing to award Town an early penalty when Craig Alcock brought down Dany N’Guessan.
The Swindon boss said: “It’s a stonewall penalty, isn’t it? Another one. I keep talking about referees, it’s every game.
“The law of averages says we’re going to get a decision sooner or later – that’s not putting pressure on referees, it’s just the truth. It’s a blatant penalty.”