Bristol Rovers boss John Ward praises players for win 'against all odds' at Fleetwood
John Ward was full of praise for his players after a patched-up Bristol Rovers side produced their finest display of the season to triumph against all the odds at Fleetwood Town this afternoon.
Ward arrived at Highbury unable to fill the bench with seven substitutes due to a continuing injury-crisis and a failure to add new faces to the squad last week.
A youthful team, which included debutant Ellis Harrison, however, were rewarded for a lung-busting display after goals from Danny Woodards, Eliot Richards and John-Joe O'Toole helped Rovers to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over a promotion-chasing Fleetwood Town side.
It was only the second time Rovers have managed to claim a victory on their travels in an otherwise disappointing season and Ward said: "I told the players to believe in themselves and that it was possible to win the game, even though the odds were stacked against us.
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"Our victory was mainly down to good finishing and a lot of hard work all over the pitch. Our front players will get all the credit for the goals, but everyone has made a contribution to what was a fantastic team effort.
"The pace and energy we played with was fantastic and it is an encouraging day for everyone connected to Bristol Rovers Football Club.
He added: "Fleetwood are a team in the top seven, who are expected to finish in the play-off places at minimum.
"Somebody told me they had 32 players training on Friday, while we had 15. We are swimming against the tide a little, but I knew this was a tough job when I accepted it so I'm not going to start moaning about it now. I know these boys have got attitude and ability and I just hope I can get a few more in now to help us out."
Harrison made an almost instant impact when providing the cross from which Woodards opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Ward said: "We started brightly and to score so quickly gave everybody a lift.
"Ellis has come into the side at the last minute and has shown absolutely no fear whatsoever. If he is still doing that after 20 games time then we might have a player on our hands.
"A couple of those boys will be playing in the youth team on Monday, but when chances to play at this level come along you have to take them and they've all done themselves no harm at all today.
"I would say to people, however, not to expect the same every week. What the boys will always give me is effort, but to reproduce that sort of quality week-in-and-week-out is not easy.
"They are young players, who can be a bit uncertain at times, but today everything came off for us. I probably won't get the same level of performance from them next week. I hope I will, but I am realistic enough to know that I probably won't."
To that end, Ward is expected to step up his attempts to bolster his squad before the clash with Exeter City at the Memorial Stadium next weekend: "Yes, it is important that I try and do that," he said.
"We are very thin in terms of numbers and in an ideal world I'd be looking at bringing five or six in. That is probably unlikely, but I'll certainly do as much as I can.
"We were close on a couple over the last few days, but they didn't materialise in the end. It is difficult when you are bottom of the league.
"I'm hoping a few might look at our result here and think we are a slightly more attractive proposition than our league position suggests."
Rovers' travelling contingent, meanwhile, enjoyed a rare away day success and Ward added: "One of the best things I heard was the supporters' singing: 'We've got our Rovers back'.
"I know it is not easy for them to see us at the bottom of the league. I suppose a few of them will have a night out in Blackpool, so I'm delighted we've given them something to go and celebrate."