By Fraser Watson
Steve Cooper insisted the FA Cup was “not a distraction” as his Swansea side sailed into the fifth round at the expense of Nottingham Forest.
Much had been made of the Swans failing to score more than twice in a game this season, a statistic they emphatically banished with a comprehensive 5-1 win at the Liberty Stadium.
Cooper made seven changes to the side that won at Barnsley last time out, but saw his side lead 2-0 at the break through Liam Cullen’s crisp volley and a superb 25 yard shot from Matt Grimes.
Forest pulled one back after the break through Anthony Knockaert but further strikes from Grimes and Cullen, and a home debut goal for Ollie Cooper, completed the rout.
“It was a fantastic scoreline and we’re through to the next round which was the objective of today. We had players making their debut and youngsters scoring, so there were loads of plusses from the game.”
On positive came in the form of Conor Hourihane, who just days after arriving on loan from Aston Villa, stood out with a creative display.
“He’s been so impressive since he came through the door can you can see he’s a really focused professional.
“And it’s not just about what he possesses – he really wants to buy into what we want to do as well.
“Today he was excellent with his composure and quality on the ball. That’s why we wanted him to come here and if that was a sign of things to come then happy days.”
Cullen’s double also represented the 21-year-olds first senior goals at the Liberty Stadium, with his day only tempered by limping off late on with injury.
“Culls deserved that,” added Cooper.
“He’s just been waiting for those type of chances to drop to him and I knew when they did he would score them.
“He’s done it for years for the academy and the 23s, and we see him do it every day in training. He’s a really good finisher – even today the chances weren’t easy but he made them look comfortable.
“He’s a good player and a great lad – and he’s a real part of what we’re doing.”
And the day was capped by another 21-year-old in Ollie Cooper, whose only previous senior appearance had come in the last round at Stevenage.
His late strike after coming on as a second half substitute prompted a noticeable reaction from the Swansea bench and coaching staff.
“I’m made up for him. He did brilliantly for the fourth goal then scored the fifth. He’s a good player and we’ve been waiting to give him an opportunity – he had one today and he took it.”
And despite a congested run of Championship fixtures coming up, staring with fellow promotion chasers Brentford at the Liberty this Wednesday, the manager insisted the next round will not be hindrance – regardless of whether the opponents are Cheltenham or Manchester City.
“It’s game by game. It’s about the Championship next but the cup is not a distraction. We’re really enjoying playing games and we’ll look forward to the next one.”