By Tony Leighton
Swindon Town are in line to reach a second Johnstone's Paint Trophy Final in three seasons as they prepare for Monday evening's second leg of their Southern Area Final against Sky Bet League 1 rivals Peterborough United.
But manager Mark Cooper insists that it's his team, not the Posh, who are underdogs despite the portents seemingly favouring the Robins.
Cooper's side head into the second leg with the scores locked at 2-2, with home advantage and with last month's 2-1 win against the same opponents in a League 1 game at the County Ground giving even more cause for optimism.
Yet Cooper told football-league.co.uk: "Peterborough are definitely favourites. They're higher than us in the table, they've got players signed from Premier League and Championship clubs and there will be more expectation on them."
The expectation among Swindon fans will be that their favourites can reach Wembley and make up for the disappointment of 2012, when under the then manager Paolo Di Canio they lost the Trophy Final 2-0 to Chesterfield.
Later that season they clinched promotion from League 2, and then last term they reached the League 1 Play-Offs but lost to Brentford in the semi-finals.
Under Cooper in the current campaign they are again vying for a Play-Off spot, sitting eighth in the table and just four points below sixth-placed Peterborough.
But the manager, in his first season in charge at the County Ground, is hedging his bets on the Robins' League prospects as well as their Trophy hopes.
"We've been around the Play-Off places for most of the season," he noted, "but you need to have a run of four or five victories to cement your place up there.
"Ask me in 10 games time about what we might do in the League. In the Trophy, we know that we'll have to be at the very top of our game to beat Peterborough.
"But our players and staff have worked very hard to get this far in the Trophy, including coming from behind to draw 2-2 with 10 men at Peterborough in the first leg, and it would be a great achievement to get through to Wembley."
Cooper has been to Wembley before as a manager, seeing his Darlington side lift the FA Trophy in 2011 with a dramatic winner in the last minute of extra time.
"That was a great day," recalled Cooper. "To get to a Wembley final in any competition is very, very special. It's a fantastic day out, but only if you win.
"For us to get there this year it's going to take a massive effort, but we'll give it all we've got. Peterborough are the favourites - but favourites don't always win."
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