SWINDON Town head coach Ben Garner was “delighted” to come away from the League Two play-off semi-final first leg against Port Vale with a 2-1 victory on Sunday.

A nervy and, at times, very scrappy affair was decided by two classy finishes from Harry McKirdy, with Vale’s James Wilson shifting the balance of the tie closer to middle ground with a late consolation.

Both teams will head back to Vale Park on Thursday believing a trip to Wembley is still well within their grasp.

Reflecting on the game post-match, Garner was critical of the impact referee Ross Joyce had on proceedings.

Of Town, Garner said: “I thought we were good in the first half. I thought we allowed it to become a little bit end-to-end, a little bit fight-ball in the second half for a spell of it.

“I have to be honest, I don’t think the officiating helped the game in any way. I thought he (Ross Joyce) should have clamped down much earlier.

“There were five fouls in the first two minutes of the game. If you set the tone, then it allows the game to flow, and I don’t think that happened.

“But we then got better control, and I didn’t see them scoring. If anything, I thought we’d go on and get a third. But we’re delighted with a win and we look forward to Thursday.”

Former Vale man McKirdy was Town’s man of the match on Sunday after heading in the game’s opening goal during the first half before volleying in a second with 25 minutes to play.

Garner was thrilled to see his squad’s hard work on the training ground pay off in terms of a tangible result while setting out his plan of attack for the return leg.

Garner said: “That’s the second time Harry has [scored from a corner this season]. It was a great ball in, Harry timed his movement and a little flicked header.

“I’m really pleased with that because we work hard on them. It was really pleasing to get that, and it was a great second goal as well.

“We’ve very much got something to work with. We’ve won the game, which is great, and we’ll go and look to do the same on Thursday now.

“There will be no change to our approach on Thursday compared to how we’ve approached every away game this season.”