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Town hone their possession game at Marine
MARK Cooper believes that Town's 3-0 friendly victory over non-league neighbours Swindon Supermarine on Saturday gave his side the perfect opportunity to hone their possession game.
Swindon dominated the ball as they notched up their second victory over Southern League opposition in as many days and Saturday’s encounter at the Webb's Wood Stadium gave boss Cooper one more chance to cast his eye over a number of trialists, including Calvin Kalinga, who was on target in Friday's win at Yate Town, and Khalil Lambin, who netted Town's third of the afternoon.
Swindon fielded a near full-strength line-up in the first half before shuffling the pack for the second period, with first-choice goalkeeper Wes Foderingham playing the full 90 minutes.
“The pitch was lovely at Supermarine and it enabled us to move the ball around quicker than we could (against Yate), so it was a better exercise for us,” said Cooper.
“It gave us an opportunity to have a lot of the ball and we know that the teams we play against are going to press us like crazy for the first half an hour – that's what we want because we're getting the leg-work in and we're getting used to keeping hold of the ball.
“We said that the team that finished (on Friday) night would start today but we had a couple of knocks. So we put Nathan (Thompson), Raffa (Branco) and Yaser (Kasim) together as a back three, which gave us an opportunity to dominate the ball.
“The players look reasonably fit to me and we go away next week for a week of training at an army camp. Hopefully we can improve the fitness even more.”
Michael Smith drew an early save from Marine's Sam Worrall before Joe Shepherd twice threatened for the hosts at the other end but in the ninth minute, Andy Williams' run and low delivery from the right flank allowed Swindon striker Smith to swivel and drill home through Worrall's legs.
Town did finally double their lead in 29th minute, with World Cup returnee Massimo Luongo picking the pocket of Shepherd before jinking past another challenge and expertly side-footing home from the edge of the area.
Swindon continued to draw a host of saves from the Marine keeper and Worrall pulled off a superb block five minutes before the break to prevent trialist Kalinga getting his name on the scoresheet again.
After Town made nine half-time changes, the game lulled into a training exercise, despite Marine's Ryan Stanners having an effort tipped over by Foderingham.
Ten minutes into the half, Marine should have reduced the deficit when new-boy Ross Adams headed high and wide from a great position after Dave Bampton's deflected cross looped into his path.
With six minutes to go, Town finally opened their account in the second half as trialist Lambin capitalised on a mis-placed header from the home defence, with the striker lofting the ball over the onrushing Worrall with ease.
Town almost made it four in the final minute, with a little help from their hosts.
After Will Randall and Conor Waldon's efforts were well-saved by Worrall, Marine's Harry Etheridge attempted to chest the ball down to his goalie, inadvertently setting up Randall at point-blank range, but the youngster somehow skied over the bar from just yards out.