SWINDON Town head coach Ben Garner felt it would have been “cruel” had his side not made it into the League Two play-offs this season.

Swindon secured sixth spot in the table following a comfortable 3-0 victory on the final day of the season at Walsall.

Jack Payne netted a brace while Harry McKirdy scored his 21st goal of the season to send 3,500 Town fans back down the M5 very happy.

After losing against Leyton Orient at home on Easter Monday, Garner said his team would have to be “perfect” from there on in – a behaviour they managed courtesy of four wins in a row via 10 goals scored and just two conceded.

Asked what emotions he was feeling after securing a play-off position, Garner said: “I’m just happy to be there.

“I think the overriding feeling on the morning of the game was that I felt confident in the group that we would do it.

“I just wanted them to get what they deserved. If we hadn’t have made it, it would have been very cruel given the season that we’ve had and the amount of effort that’s gone in.

“I’m really pleased that we’re there, and now we can go and attack the play-offs.”

As good as Town’s first-half performance was – all three goals went in before the break – the visitors allowed Walsall to dominate possession when the teams switched ends and were lucky to escape with a clean sheet.

Brendan Kiernan rattled the bar late on after Emmanuel Osadebe had gone close with a free-kick.

Town appeared to play within themselves in the second half as survival mode kicked in with players fully aware a play-off semi-final first-leg would be taking place the following weekend.

Garner agreed with that sentiment and said his players drop-off in intensity was completely understandable.

He said: “I just think there was no need to take risks in that second half. You know you’re going into the play-offs, players have got that in their head when they’re 3-0 up.

“Not that they want to conserve energy, but they look after themselves a little bit.

“They make sure they’re not going in for any silly challenges, make sure that they’re not taking undue risks. It was professional in that respect, in terms of managing things.

“We can play a hell of a lot better than that, and I expect us to in the play-offs, but we were fantastic in the first half and that really got the job done.”