SWINDON Town head coach Ben Garner labelled his side’s defensive display in the first half of Sunday’s 2-1 victory over Port Vale as ‘perfect.’

After riding a 20-minute wave of pressure from the visitors without too much trouble, Town promptly took the lead through a Harry McKirdy header.

That goal helped wrestle the initiative back towards the home side as Garner’s men finished the first half on top.

McKirdy then volleyed Swindon further in front midway through the second half before James Wilson’s late goal halved Town’s advantage going into the second leg.

Dissecting the overall performance, the Town boss was particularly impressed with his team’s first-half rear-guard action.

Garner said: “At the start of the game, they came out on the front foot, they were trying to disrupt, and there were a lot of fouls early on in the game.

“But we adjusted to that and we competed really, really well. Defensively, in the first half, I thought we were perfect, I really did.

“In the second half, there were things we can improve certainly. But overall, it was a good performance, a good win, and we’ll take that going into the second leg.”

Perhaps affected by the occasion and aware of what was at stake, Swindon managed to secure just 49 per cent of the ball – 10 per cent less than their season average – on their way to bagging a narrow victory.

Garner expects Thursday’s second-leg performance to be different though and is confident his team will rediscover their possessive dominance at Vale Park.

He said: “I think there will be more space for a start because their pitch is bigger than ours. We’ve just got to use that ball a little bit better and manage the game.

“We’ve got to do what we normally do; we’re a team who likes to play with the ball, attack and score goals, and win games playing that way. That’s what we’ve got to do on Thursday.

“They’re a physical team, you know what’s coming, you know you’ve got to stand up to it. I thought the three lads in there (Jonny Williams, Louis Reed, Jack Payne) did great on Sunday landing on second balls well.

“We then need to get passes off and get control in the game. We don’t want it to be back-to-front, we want that control in the game to be able to play our football.”