BRANCO IS THE HERO FOR MARK

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE - By Richard Gar­nett

MARK COOPER ad­mit­ted he breathed a huge sigh of re­lief af­ter his Swin­don side held off a sec­ond-half on­slaught to earn a nar­row victory over Port Vale.

The Robins took the lead in the eighth minute when Brazil­ian Raphael Rossi Branco headed home a Harry Tof­folo cor­ner, cap­i­tal­is­ing on some am­a­teur de­fend­ing from Vale.

Michael O’Con­nor’s dip­ping free­kick clipped the bar on 52 min­utes as Vale pressed hard for an equaliser.

Sub­sti­tute Louis Dodds put a last­gasp chance wide as Swin­don hung on for a ter­rific away win against a Port Vale side who had won four of their last five matches. It left Cooper a re­lieved man. He said:“It was end-to-end, wasn’t it? We started re­ally well.We could’ve put the game be­yond them, but we were a lit­tle bit sloppy on the fi­nal pass or in front of goal.

“We had five ver­sus two at one time and Ben Glad­win has done about eight Cruyff turns in the box and fallen over.

“At half-time, I said to the boys ‘how do you feel?’ and they were ab­so­lutely cream-crack­ered.

“They kept turn­ing the ball over and turned it into a bas­ket­ball match.

“But we’ve kept a clean sheet and come to one of the form teams in the league and got a 1-0 win.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult place, with the big­gest pitch in the world. I’m sure it’s square.

“I felt the three boys at the back and the goal­keeper de­fended re­ally well.”

De­ploy­ing an in­ter­est­ing but ef­fec­tive 3-6-1 for­ma­tion, the Robins dom­i­nated the open­ing half as Vale strug­gled to cope with Swin­don’s width.

Vale goal­keeper Chris Neal pushed Mas­simo Luongo’s shot on to the post, fol­low­ing good work from John Swift, as Swin­don con­tin­ued to cre­ate chances.

Wes Foder­ing­ham was forced into a smart save from Ben Wil­liamson on the half-hour mark and an­other from Dodds af­ter the in­ter­val, with Vale con­tin­u­ing to knock at the door.

Deep in in­jury time, Michael Smith smashed a shot against the post for Swin­don be­fore Dodds pulled his chance of glory wide at the other end in the dy­ing sec­onds.

Vale manager Rob Page said: “I’m bit­terly dis­ap­pointed to con­cede the goal in the man­ner we did.

“It’s a set-piece and there’s a mis­un­der­stand­ing and it’s hit one of their play­ers and gone in.

“We changed it af­ter 20 min­utes as we were get­ting out­num­bered in the mid­dle of the park.

“I think we’ve had 14 or 15 chances in the sec­ond half.

“Some­times you don’t get your just re­wards and I felt we could’ve got some­thing out of the game. “They’ve given me ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing and more to­day.

“If we keep giv­ing that work rate and ef­fort, then we will win more than we lose.”

PIC­TURES: Me­dia Im­age Ltd

ONLY WAY IS UP: Swin­don’s Brazil­ian de­fender Raphael Rossi Branco en­joys his win­ner

MY BALL: Swin­don keeper Wes Foder­ing­ham gath­ers

STAR MAN WES FODER

ING­HAM Swindo

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