Bristol Rovers boss John Ward full of praise for two-goal Ellis Harrison after victory over Rochdale
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward was full of praise for two-goal Ellis Harrison after watching his side pass the 50-point mark following a victory over Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium this afternoon.
Harrison scored a fine individual effort in the 62nd minute to open the scoring against the run of play before stabbing home the winning goal six minutes from time after Michael Rose had grabbed an equaliser for Rochdale in between.
The Welsh youngster was making what was only his fifth start since being handed a full debut by Ward at Fleetwood on January 12 and the manager said: “I was short of players that day, but now Ellis is in on merit because of the way he has gone about his job.
“He’s been in and out of the side since because we don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he has been very mature about that.
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“Ellis is a young man who can score goals and is more than willing to take people on. For me, as a coach, all you can do is to try and encourage him to do those sorts of things.
“He hasn’t done well at times because he is young and inexperienced, yet he has bounced back every time and that character will stand him in great stead to have a really great career in football.
“He still has a lot to learn but he is getting better and his first goal was fantastic for us. We have got three or four players who can conjure something out of nothing in the group and when you are up against it you sometimes need someone to produce that.”
Ward watched his side move into 14th place in League Two following the victory, but still refuses to accept that his side are safe from relegation until it is mathematically certain.
Rovers are now closer to the play-off places than they are to the relegation zone, but Ward said: “We are getting better, but there is more room for improvement.
“If I sit back and get the cigars out, the players are going to do the same and I won’t let that happen. We put the TV on straight away after the game and the players were already talking about what teams they can catch above us.
“There is positivity about them at the moment and it pleases me that they are talking like that. I don’t get in to all this guessing how many points we need. The pleasing thing for me to think about is the fantastic efforts of a team that went to Aldershot on Boxing Day with only 18 points on the board.
“We have seven more games to play and we’ll enjoy it when they are finished. Until then we will play for every point.”
Rovers, meanwhile, equalled their best run of home form for three-and-a-half-years after securing what was their fourth successive victory in front of their own supporters.
“That takes some doing,” Ward said. “That is something like 80-odd games and there have been some good players at this club during that period.
“This current group of players deserves massive credit for doing at a stage where we have been battling against the odds for the last few months.”