Swindon Town Boss Mark Cooper was simply lost for words after guiding his team to the League One Play-Off Final at Wembley following a pulsating 5-5 draw with Sheffield United at The County Ground this evening.
Leading 2-1 from the first-leg, Town flew out of the traps and stormed into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 25 minutes thanks to Ben Gladwin’s brace and a Michael Smith effort, but Jamie Murphy and Chris Basham struck for The Blades to leave the second-leg finely balanced heading into the break.
Town gave themselves some breathing space after the interval courtesy of Smith’s confident penalty, before second-half sub Jon Obika made an instant impact as he cancelled out Steven Davies’ header.
However, late, late strikes from Matty Done and Che Adams sent the nerves jangling amongst the home fans, but the hosts dug in to come out on top in a quite remarkable encounter to ensure that they will be lining up alongside Preston North End in the Play-Off Final at Wembley on May 24th.
Speaking to the press in the wake of the game, Cooper admitted that he could hardly muster the words to describe a game he described as “two heavyweight boxers trying to knock each other out.”
“I can’t. I really can’t put into words what I’ve just seen, if I’m honest,” Cooper told members of the media in the wake of the game.
“At the minute I’m just putting it down to being a freak of a game – I don’t think there will ever be another game like that.
“It was like two heavyweight boxers trying to knock each other out.
“Fair play to Sheffield United, they were 3-0 down, they kept going and gambled everyone forward, we kept scoring, they kept scoring and it was a ridiculous game of football.
“Defence is on top I think is the phrase.
“We’re just going to enjoy the night and the feeling of getting to Wembley.
“I think we’re aware that we need to go to work and do a little bit more attacking play.
“I’m very proud of them because at the start of the season we were written off as relegation fodder, and for a group of young boys to come through and be one game away from the Championship – and to even get to Wembley – is a remarkable achievement for them.
“They’ve been brilliant all season.
“We know we have our faults and we can’t have everything.
“We play a certain way and at times we have to concede.
“We know that, we know we’ve got our faults, but, I tell you what, we’re not bad going forward and we can entertain and we can play some really good football.
“I think so (when asked if Town deserved to go through over the two-legs). If you look at the goals that we’ve scored, to go to Bramall Lane and first-time we’ve won there in a long, long time, to come from a goal down and miss a penalty, on the balance we probably just about deserved to go through.
“I must give credit to Nigel Clough, his players, the supporters and his staff – it was an unbelievable game of football.
“We know we’ve got work to do – we’re aware of that – but we’re going to enjoy the occasion.”