IN HIS pre-match press conference, Swindon Town manager Mark Cooper joked that a 10-goal thriller was on the cards when his side visit Carlisle United tomorrow.
Cooper’s humour is fuelled by statistics which point to a goalless draw at Brunton Park this weekend.
Between them, Town and the Cumbrians average a 0-0 stalemate once every three-and-a-bit matches since Valentine’s Day, with Carlisle having drawn each of their last three home matches by the scoreline - and four of their last seven in total.
Swindon’s goalscoring form is somewhat better - Cooper’s side have only failed to find the net three times since February 1 - but the Robins have still added two goalless draws of their own to the two teams’ combined total, against Colchester United and Bristol City.
Therefore, with tongue firmly in cheek, Cooper told the media: “It looks like it’s going to be five each, then, doesn’t it?
“It’s going to be a tough game because they’re fighting for their lives. They’ve not conceded a lot of goals but nor have we in the last few games.
“We know if we keep playing and fighting like we have done then we’ve got a realistic chance of doing something.”
Carlisle are one of four teams locked on 40 points towards the foot of the League One table and Graham Kavanagh’s side are staring the possibility of relegation squarely in the face.
“I’m sure Carlisle will be desperate for three points and I’m sure they’ll feel like they can get that against us,” said Cooper.
“Defensively they’ve done very well. They’ve added Gary Madine to that, who is a very good striker, so we have to make sure we take care of him and his partners and make sure we pose a threat at the other end of the pitch as well.
“Fingers-crossed, with the way we’ve been defending, I’m sure we’ll make it hard work for the strikers.”
Three wins in as many matches have given Town renewed hope of reaching the play-offs, though ultimately their destiny is not in their own hands.
Peterborough United, with a game in hand and four points ahead of Swindon in sixth, must lose at least twice for Cooper’s men to bridge the gap.
“The players are in confident mood, they’re just looking forward to the next game.
“That’s where we are, as a group, we’re going to take each game as it comes and if we manage to win enough of them, who knows what can happen,” said Cooper.
“I think you have to try to keep calm because you know that at any given moment you can get a slap round the face. You can’t get carried away.
“Over the last couple of months we’ve seen what’s happened, one or two people turned on us, so we certainly won’t ever get carried away.
“I’ll keep my feet on the ground and make sure the players are focused and prepared for every game that comes along.
“You have to enjoy it, especially when you’re away from the club, you have to enjoy those times because somewhere along the line it’s not going to last.”