PAUL Cook received some encouraging words from Paolo Di Canio after the game, but he did not hide his own disappointment at Accrington Stanley’s per-formance in their 2-0 loss at Swindon Town.
A first-half double from Paul Benson on Saturday consigned Cook to a third straight loss since taking over as Stanley boss, leaving the 45-year-old concerned about his side’s defensive display.
For league leaders Swindon it was an incredible ninth consecutive victory, although even Robins manager Di Canio was not totally happy.
The Italian felt his side were poor after the interval but still offered his support for Cook during a tricky start to life at the Crown Ground.
“I am sure they will get results and I am sure they will improve under Paul,” Di Canio said.
“They tried to play the game the right way and I hope they do well.”
Cook, who saw his side drop to 14th in the League Two table, was at least content with the Reds’ second-half display but substituted both centre backs at the break in a bid to stem the tide.
Dean Winnard was ill but Toto Nsiala, who had overcome concerns about a hernia problem to play, was withdrawn in a tactical change.
Full backs Peter Murphy and debutant Michael Liddle filled in at centre back in the second half.
“I really thought in the first half we were very poor defensively,” Cook said. “Every time Swindon went for-ward into the last third of the pitch – it started in the first minute of the game, a straight ball down the middle was nearly a goal.
“That’s not teams cutting you apart, that’s our own ineff-iciencies as a defence so we were really disappointed.
“There were a few harsh words at half time in the dressing room and we made a couple of substitutions because we weren’t happy.
“We’re not going to sit back and watch people not play well.
“They’ve got to learn quickly that if you want to be in our team, you have to be fit, you have to be organised and you have to have a will to win.
“In the first half I really didn’t feel we had those qualities.
“We’re beating ourselves at the moment, that’s the truth.”
Bryan Hughes was one of the two players to be introduced at half time but the midfielder lasted less than two minutes before limping off.
“It’s his hamstring, it’s not a good sign,” Cook said.
“He felt it go, so that will be Bryan out for a period of time.
“Dean Winnard wasn’t feeling very well and I just felt young Toto was a little bit lost in the first half in terms of what we expect.
“He’s got great qualities as a young centre half, he’s a big strong boy but people were losing our centre halves very easily in the last third of the pitch and that’s something that can’t happen.
“We are a little bit threadbare at the minute but I don’t ever make excuses. I believe in hard work and working even harder to get results.”
And Cook hopes the improved second period will be a sign of things to come.
“I thought we were terrific second half,” he said. “We showed great spirit to put two young lads together like Peter Murphy and Michael Liddle.
“Michael was terrific. The other loan lads, I thought Lee Nicholls looked a really good keeper and Jamie Devitt offers great qualities with some of the balls into the box and his feet.
“We have got good qualities, at the minute we just need to put them all together.”