TOWN chief Luke Williams was not surprised that his decision to withdraw Nicky Ajose during Saturday’s loss at Port Vale drew the ire of his team’s travelling fans.

Striker Ajose had opened the scoring at Vale Park and with Swindon trailing 2-1, the 25-year-old was substituted for Luke Norris, a decision which was greeted by embittered chants from among the 400-plus away supporters that had made the journey to Vale Park.

However, Williams felt fully justified in taking off Ajose, who had missed his team’s previous clash with Chesterfield through a hamstring injury.

“Nicky hasn’t had a full week of training and it looked to me that he’d given us as much as he possibly could,” said the Swindon head coach.

“I felt like there was going to be far more direct balls into the centre of the pitch, which is something Nicky is not so comfortable with – he much prefers the ball to be played from a wide area inside the box for him to score.

“Luke Norris came on and did exactly what he was asked to do, which was to run at the heart of them and compete with the physical centre-backs.

“He held the guy and ran with him, and scored.

“I understand that whatever I do at the moment, of course they’re going to give me criticism.

“I was told I don’t know what I’m doing with Rohan Ince – he’s had three man-of-the-match performances at home, partly because he was protected and made sure that he didn’t get sent off when he hadn’t had a full week of training.”

Williams also revealed that his players were left hurting after slipping to a 3-2 defeat at the hands of the Valiants, who are also struggling near the bottom of the League One table, particularly after they looked so dangerous in the opening half-an-hour in Staffordshire.

The Town boss said: “They’re crushed – there’s no doubt.

“They’re absolutely crushed and it’s even more difficult to accept when we came out and we look like we’re up for the fight.

“It’s even more difficult to accept when we appear to have been well set-up to win the game and we’ve let it slip away from us.”

No Town players were made available to the media after the match at Vale Park.