SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper hopes his players can be mentally strong as they aim for the League One play-offs in the wake of their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy penalty heartbreak, .
Town were denied a place at Wembley on Monday night, as they lost 4-3 on penalties to Peterborough United after the tie finished level at 3-3 on aggregate.
Jacob Murphy’s error inside his own box led to Posh’s equaliser in the 75th minute of the second leg, while Massimo Luongo and Tijane Reis both missed from 12 yards in the shoot-out, leading to concerns that the impact and nature of the defeat could derail Swindon’s season.
Cooper, who has given his squad two days off to allow them to get the loss out of their systems, is unsure how his players will react but, with a tough trip to promotion-chasing Leyton Orient to come on Saturday, he knows they need to refocus as quickly as possible.
When asked whether Town would be able to get the defeat out of their minds in time for the visit to Brisbane Road, Cooper told the Advertiser: “I don’t know, we’ll see.
“I’ll try my utmost before the weekend and I’m sure that will spur us on to better things.
“It’s heartbreaking but there’s only one team that can win and we know that before we start.
“We have to concentrate on the play-offs.”
Cooper was particularly complimentary of Murphy’s performance against Peterborough and backed the 18-year-old Norwich loanee not to be fazed by his mistake, which allowed Posh to level the match.
“Having seen his character for a couple of weeks I wouldn’t have thought it will affect him too much.
“He’s a strong, strong-minded young man who’s come into the group and made an impression,” said Cooper.
“I’m sure he’ll go from strength to strength, we’ve got no worries about Jacob over that.
“For Norwich to have trusted him to play in the Premier League tells you something about what they think of him.
“You don’t just get to play in the Premier League so we’ve done well, Lee has done well to be able to get him to our football club and he’ll be a big addition for us and an asset towards the end of the season.”