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THE RESULT: Cooper acknowledges defensive failings
SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper knows his side must learn to defend in the air after Gillingham taught them a brutal lesson in physicality on Saturday.
The Gills, with the twin man mountains of Adebayo Akinfenwa and Danny Kedwell up front, bullied their hosts under the high ball at the County Ground – with Charlie Lee’s long throws a constant threat.
Despite being the better side on the day, therefore, Swindon had to make do with a point and Cooper was not about to use the height difference in the sides as an excuse.
“They probably had six or seven big ones and we only had four we could match them with, and that’s difficult. In the second half we left Nile Ranger free in the six-yard box and said if it comes anywhere near him just head it – we left him without a marker to go and head the ball in a zonal kind of thing,” he said.
“We’ve only got so much height and there’s not a lot we can do about that apart from give the players the man they’re marking and tell them to stop them from scoring.
“It’s part of the game. There are no rules in how you win the game and how you lose the game. If teams want to do that it’s fine by me. I’ve been there myself and you have to deal with it.
“We’ll get an awful lot more of it this season but we were aware of the threat and we just didn’t do it well enough.”
Cooper, who was taking charge of his first game as full-time boss of the Robins, was pleased with the display even if Cody McDonald’s 85th-minute equaliser ruined a potential winning start in the hotseat.
“I’m just looking at the performance – I thought we played really well again. I thought some of the football we played was really good and if we keep putting performances in like that the results will come,” he said.
“We’re just going to keep trying to replicate that level of performance.
“We’re never the finished article and we’ve got loads to work with in terms of the boys we’ve got and I think they’ll only get better.
“The supporters were first class today and really stuck with the players and some of the play was fantastic.
“It felt good. I enjoyed the game, I’m just really frustrated we didn’t get a deserved three points.”
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