Ben Garner praised Swindon’s ability to grind out a win as they managed to overcome Port Vale in a cagey play-off semi-final tie at the County Ground which saw Harry McKirdy’s two goals secured a 2-1 victory.
The deadlock was broken by McKirdy’s header in the 26th minute and grabbed his brace after the hour, with James Wilson’s late goal handing the Valiants a lifeline.
Garner said: “We won the game which is great and we will now go to do the same on Thursday and win the game.
“We won’t change our approach to the way we have approached every away game this season.
“I thought we were good in the first half but we allowed it to become a little bit end-to-end and a little bit fightball in the second half for a spell of it.
“I don’t think the officiating helped the game in any way today and the referee should have clamped down on it.
“There were five fouls in the first two minutes of the game and if you set the tone it allows the game to flow and I don’t think that happens.
“We then got better control and wanted to go and get a third goal but we are delighted with the victory.
“I thought we defended ever so well today.”
Swindon found their rhythm midway through the first half and capitalised through McKirdy as the striker scored his 21st goal of the season.
A dinked delivery to the near post was met by the former Port Vale forward who glanced a header past Aidan Stone to give Swindon the lead in the 26th minute.
Chances for either side fell to Jack Payne and Ryan Edmondson but neither produced the quality required to alter the scoreline at the interval.
McKirdy stunned the travelling Vale supporters into silence with a volleyed finish to double Swindon’s lead.
Port Vale responded through Wilson as the former Manchester United striker beat Swindon’s offside trap and scored with a simple tap-in with less than 10 minutes remaining.
A tense finish failed to produce any more goals, however, as Swindon ran out the eventual victors.
Asked if it was still all to play for, Port Vale manager Darrell Clarke said: “Too right it is, too right it is.
“The late goal gives us a boost and now we have to win our home game. It’s as simple as that.
“The play-offs can be like that and we are very disappointed especially with the first goal we conceded today.
“It was very sloppy and they didn’t really have a lot up until that, then we are chasing the game and they nick the second goal.
“I thought we were a lot better in the second half but we have to be better with the ball.
“I’ve been saying that for a few weeks now and it is now time to produce that.
“We were just loose with possession and we work very hard without the ball but you have to work just as hard on the ball at times and we haven’t done that enough in these last five games.”
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