ROBINS TURN COOPER GREY!
NATHAN BYRNE netted Swindon’s winner as they completed a stunning second-half comeback against Port Vale to put their play-off push back on track but manager Mark Cooper was not getting carried away.
Left-back Byrne fired home Swindon’s third 20 minutes from time after goals from Nile Ranger and Spurs loanee Alex Pritchard had dragged the Robins back level.
Vale had been in control at the break courtesy of strikes from captain Doug Loft and Tom Pope but their fragile defence crumbled in the second half to leave Swindon eyeing a place in the top six.
Victory leaves the Robins four points shy of a play-off berth but boss Cooper is preaching caution, saying:“Ask me after another ten games if we are good enough to get into the play-offs.
“If we can get on a run, that'll make the difference but anyone can beat anyone this season.
“It was a fantastic comeback. We were 2-0 down without doing a lot wrong and Port Vale scored with the two attempts they had.
“We told them to keep going at half time because we were playing well and we were outstanding again in the second half.
“They are good players but they are going to make it hard for themselves if they keep going two goals behind – it is giving me more grey hairs!”
Cooper must have been scratching his head at half-time after seeing Vale stretch ahead with their only chances of the half as Loft converted Jennison MyrieWilliams’ centre before Pope prodded home a loose ball inside the Swindon box.
But it was a different story after the interval as Ranger pulled one back for the Robins on 51 minutes, heading home Pritchard’s cross.
Michael Smith and Ranger then both rattled the woodwork before Pritchard, on a season long loan from White Hart Lane, produced a moment of rare quality in the match, levelling with a thumping free-kick from 25 yards shortly after the hour mark. Vale were on the ropes and Bryne duly delivered the knockout blow, scrambling Michael Smith’s cross past the despairing dive of keeper Chris Neal. It was the third time in as many matches that Vale had conceded three goals – and boss Micky Adams has promised to ring the changes ahead of the midweek visit of Colchester.
He said: “We work on our defending every day – not just the back four, the whole unit – and to concede the goals we have recently is criminal.
“We’ll have to find the solution somewhere and if that means making changes, we’ll do that.
“Looking at the goals we conceded, we should do better for all three. We just haven’t defended well enough.
“We’re disappointed. It’s probably a little bit too simplistic to say that with the wind, we scored two goals and with the wind they scored three.We got punished by some good players – Ranger, Pritchard and Massimo Luongo all played well for them and we’ve not go close enough to them.”
STAR MAN ALEX PRITCH
n HUDDLE: Swindon players celebrate Alex Pritchard’s equaliser