MARK Cooper admitted that he was a little nervous pre-match at the prospect of throwing Ben Gladwin into the deep end against Preston North End, but the Swindon Town manager’s concerns were more than eased by the midfielder’s man of the match performance.
Gladwin, who Cooper rates highly due to a series of impressive displays in training, was immense at the heart of the Town midfield as the Robins ended their own eight-match winless run and Preston’s 12-game unbeaten streak with a 1-0 victory at the County Ground.
The former Marlow man, who only turned professional with Swindon in November, won the second-half penalty which Michael Smith converted and wowed the home crowd with his range of passing and close control.
After the game, Cooper said: “Ben is consistently one of the best players in training and I’ve spoken to him a few times now about transferring his training performances onto the pitch.
“I spoke to him about the importance of maybe starting the game by doing a couple of simple things to pull himself into it.
“His performance was outstanding.
“He does that every day but the trick has been trying to get him to transfer it onto the big pitch and he’s done that today.
“I was a little bit worried but he has shown today that he can definitely cope with it.
“To come into a League One environment when you’ve been playing at Marlow, with no disrespect to them, and to have to produce straight away is difficult.
“I had in my mind pre-season and that after pre-season he would come but I was really pleased with him today, I thought he was outstanding.”