SWINDON Town boss Mark Cooper was pleased with the individual performances of his youngest players, despite his side slipping to a 2-0 friendly defeat to non-league Eastleigh last night.
Second-year scholars Will Randall and Lee Marshall and striker Connor Waldon all came off the bench to impress their manager, who was otherwise frustrated by his team’s inability to keep hold of the ball at the Silverlake Stadium.
A sixth-minute thunderbolt from Lawson D’Ath and Craig McAllister’s late header gave Eastleigh the bragging rights come the end of the game but Cooper spent his post-match interviews praising the next generation of Town starlets.
He said: “We had a lot of young boys playing and in the second half I thought we dominated possession, with a lot of young boys on the pitch. I thought Will Randall was outstanding again, Connor Waldon was outstanding and Lee Marshall did very well. I was very happy with the second half.
“They’re a very experienced team, Eastleigh. There’s a lot of experience and a lot of Football League games.
“It was a good test for our young players. They wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think they would feature at some point in the season.”
Town played the game at the end of an intense navy boot camp on Thorney Island and Cooper said he could see the after-effects of four days of heavy-duty training.
Ben Gladwin, who started the game at centre-back, had to be withdrawn at half-time with a knee complaint, while Jack Barthram picked up a minor knock in the warm-up and wasn’t risked.
Meanwhile, Yaser Kasim is set to undergo a scan on the damaged nerve in his foot today to determine whether or not he requires an injection to help the problem heal.
“We wanted the players to go into the games tired and you could see that today. It’s been a really tough last couple of days and we wanted to see how they dealt with it mentally,” said Cooper.
“We were missing a few players, Ben came in and had a reaction with his knee, Barthram pulled out in the warm up so we were down to the bare bones.
“Everybody knows we need a couple of centre-backs, everybody knows we need a left-back or a left wing-back. We’re waiting for the recruits to come and they’ll give everybody a lift.”