Opposition view: Impressed Cooper labels Cobblers the ‘best team’ Rovers have faced

Mark Cooper's side are fifth in League Two
Mark Cooper's side are fifth in League Two

A magnanimous Mark Cooper described the Cobblers as ‘probably the best team’ his Forest Green Rovers side have faced this season, despite getting the better of Keith Curle’s men with a last-gasp 2-1 victory on New Year’s Day.

Rovers raced out of the blocks and went in front with just 61 seconds on the clock when George Williams finished off good work by Reece Brown, eluding Town’s defence to prod home from just a few yards out.

Credit to Keith Curle and his team, he has a really good football team who try and play the game the right way and they will beat a lot of teams this year.

But the visitors recovered well from that setback and were quick out of the traps themselves in the second-half, levelling four minutes after the restart through Sam Foley’s well-placed header.

However, after Northampton scored an injury-time winner in the reverse fixture in October, Rovers did likewise on Tuesday as Theo Archibald crashed home from all of 30 yards to break Cobblers hearts.

Cooper was not getting carried away in his post-match interview though as he paid a huge compliment to Town, labelling them as among the best sides Rovers have come up against this season.

“It’s a sweet victory because we played against a really good team today,” he said. “I thought they were, very, very good in my opinion and probably the best team we’ve played with the way they passed the ball and stopped us playing.

“They gave our lads the respect of trying to stop us and then played some really good football on the back of it. A draw would probably have been a fair result.

“Credit to Keith Curle and his team, he has a really good football team who try and play the game the right way and they will beat a lot of teams this year.”

Cooper’s team were under the cosh at the start of the second-half - and it could well have been Town who claimed a late victory with Sam Hoskins missing a chance just before Archibald’s winner.

Cooper added: “We were on the ropes for the first 20 minutes of the second-half and we didn’t mark properly for their goal. Forty per cent of their goals come from crosses and we knew if they were going to score it would be from a cross.

“They deserved their goal on the balance of the play at the time but we injected some pace and energy into the team with some substitutions

“But we weren’t at our fluent best and Northampton deserve credit for that. I also think we looked tired but sometimes, when you’re at the top of the league, you get to win games like that because you’ve earned it.”