Swansea City head coach Steve Cooper was delighted with the effort of his team to earn victory in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final, but was wary that nothing has been settled yet.
His team hold the advantage after Andre Ayew scored the only goal of a scrappy clash against Barnsley, but their defensive efforts and battling qualities stood out most at Oakwell.
It was an impressive display but, having lost a first-leg lead in last season’s play-offs, Cooper was keen to stress that the job was not done.
On the game
Swansea adapted their style to deal with the physical and intense threat of Barnsley, and Cooper could reflect on a job well done in that regard.
“We’re pleased with the effort tonight, we knew what the game would be,” he said. “We knew they’d go a certain way and, away from home, you have to stand up to it, respect it and match it and I thought we did for the game.
“Obviously we got a real good moment of excellence with Andre’s goal and we managed to continue being strong defensively.
“We could have shown a bit more quality on the ball at times but I get it, with the fans being back here and a really good atmosphere here and Barnsley being really tough to play against, and there’s that psychological thing of trying to protect the lead a little bit. Over the 90 minutes we did that.”
In a tight contest with few significant scoring opportunities for either side, Ayew’s clinical finish shortly before half-time was crucial in separating the teams.
“Andre is the one who made the difference on the night,” said Cooper. “We know he can do that, once he gets in those areas and on his left foot he’s a real handful and he proved that tonight.”
On Guehi and Cabango
Particularly impressive were the youthful centre-back pairing of Marc Guehi and Ben Cabango, who did a fine job of keeping the opposition quiet and limiting their goal threat.
“Marc and Ben are two 20-year-olds at the back and, in a game like that, I thought they were excellent,” said Cooper.
“It was just a good effort from the boys. It wasn’t a typical Swansea game but that’s fine, you have to respect that.”
On the second leg
Swansea also led 1-0 after the first leg at this stage last season after winning on home turf against Brentford, only to be turned over 3-1 in the reverse, and Cooper is keen to make sure there is no repeat this time.
“We’ve been here before, this time last year,” he warned. “It’s only a small lead and that’s got to be the focus and the mentality now going into Saturday.
“It’ll be good to have a conversation with the players in the week, in the preparation, because that’s what we do. We talk openly with the players and ask them what their views are, not just the ones who were with us last year.
“(We’ll) come up with what we think is the right plan. The difference is we were away last year and this year we’re at home. Supporters are going to be in the stadium so that comes into the mix as well.”