Bristol Rovers boss John Ward delighted to watch players bounce back with Port Vale victory
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward praised his players for bouncing back from a disappointing defeat at Chesterfield on Saturday after watching them secure an impressive victory over Port Vale at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night.
Former Stoke City striker Ryan Brunt grabbed a first-half brace to score what were the only goals in a 2-0 success over Micky Adams’ promotion-chasing side.
The victory saw Rovers move 12 points clear of the League Two relegation zone ahead of Saturday’s clash with Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium and Ward said: “What is probably the most pleasing thing is that we have managed to bounce back again quickly following a poor result.
“There were no excuses for the way we played on Saturday, so it was important we bounced back. It shows we have resilience about us and everybody is having a real go for this football club at the moment.
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“I said that the last game here against Exeter was our best result, but this one has overtaken it. We won the game on attitude and effort as our ability was a bit short at times with the football, but we’ve ground it out.
“We’ve had tough games against three top sides at our place recently and to come through them without conceding a goal is a fantastic effort.
“We went into the game with 11 players unavailable for one reason or another, so for the other half of the squad to stand up and be counted like they did was superb. I looked at Port Vale’s bench and it was pretty start-studded for the level we are at, so fair play to my boys, they’ve done very well.
“We’re getting better, but I don’t want us to stop. I’m always asking that bit more from the players. They are very tired at the moment, but they are also very happy.”
Ward suffered a setback before kick-off when losing defender Mark McChrystal to an ankle injury, which forced the manager to reshape his back four for the first time since Rovers lost to Gillingham on January 5.
Danny Woodards was dropped back from midfield to slip in alongside Tom Parkes, while Jim Paterson, who played on the left-hand side of midfield, started his first game since Boxing Day.
“I wasn’t worried about Danny at all,” said Ward. “He’s a good footballer and those types of people can play anywhere.
“Jim also did really well in a position that is unfamiliar to him when you also consider he hasn’t played 90 minutes for a number of months. These lads are experienced professionals and the way they go about their business has rubbed off on some of the younger boys.”
Brunt opened the scoring with a seventh minute header before scoring what was his fifth goal in ten games just before half-time. The 19-year-old, however, missed a glorious chance to complete a hat-trick during the second-half and Ward said: “He’s a good kid playing beyond his years.
“I ‘m pleased he has been rewarded with two goals, but he’ll be more disappointed with the one he put over the bar.
“He was the first to admit he didn’t play well at Chesterfield on Saturday, so I am delighted it has gone his way tonight.”
Ward, meanwhile, hopes to have McChrystal fit to return for Saturday’s game, but midfielder Oliver Norburn is a doubt after having to be withdrawn with an ankle injury during the second-half. Joe Anyinsah and Fabian Broghammer are still both nursing hamstring injuries.