Opposition view: Boss Cooper ‘hurting’ after Cobblers condemn Rovers to first defeat with late winner

SCUFFLE: Mark Cooper and Kevin van Veen were involved in a tangle during the closing stages of Saturday's win. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds
SCUFFLE: Mark Cooper and Kevin van Veen were involved in a tangle during the closing stages of Saturday's win. Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Forest Green Rovers manager Mark Cooper admitted Saturday’s stoppage-time defeat to the Cobblers was a gut-wrenching way for his side to lose their unbeaten record this season.

Rovers had not tasted defeat in any of their 16 league or cup games prior to Saturday’s trip to the PTS Academy Stadium, placing them sixth in just their second ever season in the EFL.

And that record appeared safe when Reuben Reid struck two minutes shy of half-time to give the visitors a deserved lead at the break after they dominated the opening 45 minutes on a blustery afternoon.

But Town kicked with the wind in the second-half and made it count to maximum effect, Aaron Pierre heading in the equaliser around the hour-mark before Andy Williams grabbed a 96th minute winner to end Forest Green’s unbeaten start.

“Losing any game hurts but especially in the manner we did today,” admitted Cooper afterwards. “In football you mistakes and unfortunately it led to a goal but we win together, we lose together and we draw together.

“In the first-half we controlled the game and then we thought that kicking the ball out of play in the second-half was really brave and was the best way to do things.

“But all it did was invite to put balls into the box and that’s where both of their goals came from. We need to be braver than that.

“If we give the ball away and concede when trying to pass it, then I’ll take the blame. But today is not how we play and the two or three times we did pass the ball we caught them on the counter-attack.

“We picked the wrong option. We had a brilliant opportunity to slip in Isaac Pearce clear on goal but we chose to go the other way. Once you get that opportunity to kill a game, you have to take it.

“The wind spoiled the game. It’s the one condition that I think no-one wants to play in because it makes the game a lottery.

“We have to take our medicine. Good luck to Northampton and credit to them but we have to move on and see what the players are made of now.”

Cooper also addressed his part in a late incident when several and players coaches on either side were involved in a ugly fracas, resulting in yellow cars for Cobblers striker Kevin van Veen and Rovers skipper Paul Digby.

He added: “It was chaos down there. I just tried to stop their lad (van Veen) getting sent off because he got Shep (Liam Shephard) around the throat and he obviously reacted to that but it was nothing.”