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Irked Cooper turns up the heat on lackluster Rovers

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IRKED boss Mark Cooper dubbed his Forest Green players ‘soft’ after their 3-2 League Two defeat at Tranmere.

The hosts raced into an early lead as Paul Lewis headed home after just 12 minutes, before James Vaughan added a second two minutes after the break.

Substitute Elliott Whitehouse pulled one back, but Tranmere restored their two-goal lead through Liam Feeney inside the final 15 minutes.

Substitute Scott Wagstaff headed home in stoppage time, before Rovers missed out on a brilliant chance to snatch a point.

“We were soft,” Cooper told the club’s official website. “They haven’t performed. They didn’t fight, they didn’t scrap, they didn’t win headers, they didn’t win second balls, didn’t win tackles, didn’t win duels.

“You have to do that to win games. The players need to start showing a bit of bottle.

“We need to toughen up, we need to put some tougher players in the team”

“There’s one or two who have played themselves out of the team and two or three who have played themselves into it.

“Some of the boys who didn’t play, without getting on the pitch, have played themselves into the team.

“It’s alright having young players who can do Cruyff turns and flick the ball over their heads and do drag backs but you have got to run back towards your own goal.

“You’ve got to be able to defend and mark your men, not just play when you have got the ball.

“Elliott Whitehouse was a big positive, he played himself into the team, Waggy (Scott Wagstaff) came on, showed good quality.

“But when you are 3-1 down it is easy to start playing, as there is no pressure.

“When it’s 0-0 is when it matters, when you have got to fight and scrap, that’s when it matters.

“We had chances late on and somebody has to score, put the ball in the net.

“It’s the same as when the Port Vale keeper drops the ball on our goal line. It’s lack of desire.

“That has to come from the players. They have to get themselves together as they have let themselves down.”

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