SWINDON Town must reap the benefits of the inevitable tension around Prenton Park when they visit relegation-threatened Tranmere Rovers tonight, according to manager Mark Cooper.
Town, fresh off the back of a confidence-boosting victory over Preston North End on Saturday, make the trip to Merseyside this evening in search of their first away win since February 8.
To achieve that, Cooper believes his players need to exaggerate any feeling of doom and gloom amongst the home crowd, whose side are currently sitting just one place above the League One drop zone and could fall into the bottom four if results go against them tonight.
“Sometimes the teams at the bottom are scrapping and become really nervous.
“It’s the same for the teams at the top.
“They know they’ve got to win to get in the play-offs or get promotion.
“The ones at the bottom have to win,” he said.
“You can play on that tension - that they have to win - and if you keep it tight for a certain amount of time you might get a bit of joy at the right end of the pitch.”
If successful, Town should be able to continue to use that ploy for most of their remaining away matches this term. Trips to Carlisle United and Notts County, both of whom are battling the threat of relegation, follow the visit to Tranmere, though Cooper has stressed his players must first and foremost focus on their own game.
“We’re not looking too much into who we’re playing, we just want to go out and give a good account of ourselves,” he said.
“We concentrate on ourselves.
“Yes, we make the players aware of who we’re playing against but we want performances with the desire and the effort they’ve shown in the last two games.
“If we get that then, no matter who we’re playing against, we’ve got a real chance of getting a result.”
The Swindon boss is confident his team won’t be dragged into a scrap at Prenton Park, insisting they will continue to “play football” regardless of the opposition.
“I don’t think we’re built for that,” he said.
“We’ve shown a lot of resolve in the last two games but we’ve always played our football.
“I think we’d always go back to play football, no matter the situation.”