SWINDON Town manager Mark Cooper has conceded that the top six may well be out of his side’s reach following their weekend defeat to MK Dons but he’s not about to give up on the Robins’ season with 11 games still to play.
George Baldock’s 93rd-minute strike handed the Dons a 2-1 victory at the County Ground on Saturday to help his team leapfrog Town into seventh in League One and leave Swindon eight points off the play-off places.
Over the past decade, an average of 75 points has been required to secure sixth spot in the division, meaning Town would have to take 28 points from a possible 33, with promotion-chasing Wolves, Brentford, Preston and Rotherham all still to come to Wiltshire before the campaign’s end.
It is a steep mountain to climb and one Cooper has accepted may well be too much to tackle for his relatively young and inexperienced squad.
“You don’t throw in the towel but you have to be realistic, don’t you. You have to say Peterborough are probably a little bit too far ahead,” he said.
“What we certainly won’t do is let the season peter out. We’ll try to finish as strongly as we can and get ourselves ready for next year, which we believe, with the nucleus of players we’ve got and if we can add to it, will be very, very strong.”
Town let a lead slip for the third time in a little more than a week against the Dons, having seen Michael Smith nod them in front in the 18th minute on Saturday.
Antony Kay levelled for the visitors with a free header before Baldock’s late sucker-punch, much to Cooper’s frustration.
“We had a couple of great chances at the end of the first half and at the start of the second to kill the game and that’s been the story of the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Crawley, Crewe, Colchester – we’ve not finished teams off and we’ve let the back door open, and that’s what happens.
“It’s difficult to get up the pitch when they’re frightened about what’s behind them and the space that’s behind them.
“That’s something we need to address.”
High-flying Wolves arrive at the County Ground tomorrow fresh off the back of a remarkable run of eight consecutive victories and Cooper is desperate for his players to rise to the challenge.
“It’s a great game for the players, it gives them that added bit of energy with the atmosphere,” he said.
“I’m sure Wolves will travel in their hoards and get behind their team very vocally.
“Hopefully our supporters will as well on Tuesday.”