Mike Cooper

Cooper's Bolton Reaction

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Argyle were winning 1-0 at home to Bolton on Saturday when it looked certain that Wanderers were about to level the scores.

There were just over 10 minutes remaining when Amadou Bakayoko received a low cross and when he shot goalwards, probably he thought he had scored an equalising goal.

However, Argyle goalkeeper Mike Cooper produced a breath-taking save, reacting immensely quickly to thrust out a leg to deflect the ball onto the frame of the goal. Bakayoko tried to follow up, but quick defending by Brendan Galloway shielded the ball out for a corner.

Nine minutes later, Ryan Hardie latched on to a Morgan Whittaker pass to lash home a second goal to add to Niall Ennis’s first-half opener.

After the game, Mike spoke to Argyle TV, and talked us through the processes of making his save, including how he and goalkeeping coach Darren Behcet had prepared for this exact eventuality.

“I just turned and kept it out somehow! It is something we have been working on this week, movement around the goal. Daz identifies things that the other team does, so thought that kind of cutback is something they might have. I was half ready for it as soon as he squared it.  Luckily it came off the post and then Brendan was there to follow up. That’s when you need your defenders.

“It felt like quite a big save at the time, to keep it 1-0.”

The game itself was not free-flowing, with two sides who would typically want to play passing, attractive football somewhat nullifying each other.

Argyle, though, toughed out the win, and Cooper had praise for the attacking players whose clinical actions added the goals to give The Pilgrims all three points.

“It was gritty,” Mike said. “I think we started well, but didn’t really get a foothold in the game in the first half. Both teams were stopping each other playing out, so it was a fairly direct game. Niall’s endeavour on a through ball to get on the end of it and make something happen was a huge boost.

“He didn’t stop going. I think that rubbed off on the whole team. I thought everyone dug it out well today. They didn’t make it easy, they are a good side. We gritted it out but we got three points.

“Ryan and Morgan then came on to make an impact. It was a great dribble and throughball, then an emphatic finish by Ryan. That’s what you need from your subs when they come on with fresh legs.”

A crowd of 14,631 – all but 764 of them home fans – roared with relief at Hardie’s clincher, and Cooper had special words for the Green Army for their support, at Home Park and beyond.

“They have supported us really well this season,” he said. “At Charlton, when they travelled in really good numbers, it was really disappointing to have a game like that when you get the support we do. For them to turn up in their numbers at Forest Green and we gave them a 3-0, then a 2-0 today at home, I feel like we repaid them for their faith.”

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