MARK Cooper wants to see the gritty resolve which featured so prominently in Swindon Town’s midweek draw at Peterborough United come to the fore once again when they return to League One action at Port Vale on Saturday.
Town came from two goals down to level their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern section area final tie at 2-2 on Wednesday, despite being reduced to 10 men following the dismissal of Jay McEveley, giving them a tremendous chance of reaching Wembley when the second leg comes around next week.
The most noticeable quality throughout the Robins side on the night was a desire to get something out of the game – a character trait Cooper asked from his players after their dismal 1-0 loss at home to Oldham Athletic last weekend.
Having found that fight in his squad, the Swindon manager is now desperate for Town to retain that willingness to battle their way to a result at Vale Park.
He told the Advertiser: “Teams have tried to work us out now. They’ve tried to be physical and press us and we’ve had to counter that by playing a team that’s maybe a bit more powerful, a bit stronger and a team that is full of players that we know are going to work their socks off. That’s the key now.
“They’re big, strong and powerful and it will be a tough game away from home. They’ve set their own benchmark now and they if they drop below that then they’re kidding themselves. I’ve said to them ‘to play for this team you have to run, you have to fight and scrap for every ball, and if you want to play in this team you have to do that first before you go and play football’.
“That’s what we’ve been searching for. That’s what I’ve been searching for all season. We’ve had it in little glimpses and we need to carry on away from home and get them going back to back.
“We need points away from home and we need them at home but it’s only going to start with hard work, first and foremost.”
Vale lie one place behind Town in ninth in League One and a victory would lift Micky Adams’ side above their guests, over whom they hold a game in hand.
Cooper praised Adams’ work in the Potteries, highlighting the feat of securing promotion from League Two last season amidst turmoil in the boardroom.
“I like Micky. He’s done great wherever he’s been,” Cooper said. “He’s had good spells. He’s done great getting Port Vale up in ridiculously difficult circumstances – with administration – and for them to be where they are this season is fantastic. I like Micky, he’s a good lad.”