PATIENT COOPS PLAYS IT COOL
MARK Cooper admits his patience paid off handsomely for in-form Swindon as they breezed past stuttering Barnsley at Oakwell.
After a goalless first period, the Robins sunk the Tykes with three clinical finishes to keep themselves well and truly in the League One promotion frame.
And Swindon boss Cooper says it was testament to his improving players.
“We knew Barnsley would press hard early in the game and throw some real energy at us, but as we all know it is difficult to maintain that kind of momentum,” he said.
“I always felt they would run out of energy in the end, and that's how it panned out.
“I knew that if we stayed patient and kept our back door shut, we wouldn't go far wrong.
“Once that first goal went in I knew we'd have the belief to go on and get the three points.
“It was important we remained patient and stayed focused, and as long as we do the little things well and stay professional, we'll always do okay.
“Once we'd got that first goal I knew we were capable of sticking the knife in.”
It was an uninspiring goalless first half at Oakwell.
The Tykes probably came closest to breaking the deadlock, with giant defender Jean-Yves M'voto sliding in to volley Conor Hourihane's free-kick inches over the crossbar.
Earlier Devante Cole tested Robins' keeper Wes Foderingham from a tight angle, before the visitors replied with Nathan Byrne driving over the top from 30 yards.
Swindon's best effort came on the half-hour mark when Michael Smith forced a fine nearpost stop from Tykes keeper Ross Turnbull.
The rapidly improving Robins were much more clinical during a dominant second-half show.
Cooper's men – now unbeaten in nine matches in all competitions – surged into the lead just before the hour mark.
Byrne – impressive from start to finish – cut through two or three feeble challenges from the Tykes defenders before coolly slotting past Turnbull.
That goal knocked the stuffing out of the Barnsley, and from then on they struggled.
It was little surprise when Swindon scored twice inside 60 seconds to wrap up a very well-deserved three points.
Just seven minutes were left when Byrne clipped in a neat cross for sub Jake Reeves to drive home, then a similar assist from Michael Smith found Andy Williams, who side-footed home confidently past Turnbull from 12 yards.
It was another miserable day for Tykes boss Danny Wilson, whose side have picked up just two points from the last 15 available.
His assistant Chris Hutchings said: “There was nothing in the game in the opening halfhour to be honest.
“They had chances and we did, but as soon as the first goal went in, that was the turning point.
“We haven't stayed with runners, and everyone is disappointed with the way we've conceded three goals. After the first goal we were just too open.”
STAR MAN NATHA
n Swindo FIRST-DEGREE BYRNE: Nathan Byrne celebrates after scoring the first goal for Swindon