Bristol Rovers boss John Ward issues Rotherham United backlash warning
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward has warned his players to be ready for a Rotherham United backlash when the two sides meet at the Memorial Stadium tomorrow night (7.45pm).
Rovers entertain Steve Evans' promotion-chasing side less than a month on from securing a surprise 3-1 victory at the New York Stadium during a run of form that has seen Ward's men ease their relegation fears.
Rotherham, however, have since won three of their last four games to put themselves right back in the mix for one of the three automatic promotion spots and Ward said: "We played them pretty recently and I'm sure they will be smarting from the way we won that game at their place.
"It makes it a bit harder for us because I know that it hurt them. They will not forget that and I'm pretty sure that Steve Evans will be saying to his players before the game that they owe us one after what happened that day.
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"They have been in good form themselves since and had an excellent result to beat Chesterfield 1-0 on Saturday in front of 11,000 people, so we are going to have to play really well if we are to beat them again.
"We'll take confidence from the game up there, though. It is those sorts of results that have served to increase the belief amongst our players that we can win these types of games against teams going for promotion."
Rovers, meanwhile, moved seven points clear of the relegation zone following Saturday's 1-0 win over Wycombe Wanderers at the Memorial Stadium, but Ward warned: "We can't accept that we are safe until we have achieved it mathematically.
"Any team can go on a winning run, but they can also just as easily lose a few games. We have had some good results, but football is unpredictable.
"There are some other teams down around the bottom, the likes of AFC Wimbledon and Barnet, who are starting to pick up points here and there, so we have to keep our foot on the pedal.
"If any of my players or the supporters thinks everything is done then I would tell them that they are wrong. We need to keep pushing until safety is absolutely certain."
Ward is expected to make minimal changes to his starting line-up again – but expects to make full use of his squad over the coming weeks.
"We have a run of Saturday and Tuesday games for the next three weeks," he said. "That in itself brings its own problems if we pick up knocks along the way.
"I am not the biggest fan of squad rotation unless it is forced upon us for one reason or another, so I'll always pick what I think is the strongest team for every game.
"Of course, the guys on the bench are disappointed at times when they are not playing, but they know they will get the chance to play a part over the next few weeks due to the amount of games we have in front of us."