Bristol Rovers boss John Ward praises rising star Ellis Harrison
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward was full of praise for two-goal Ellis Harrison after watching his side pass the 50-point mark following victory against Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Harrison scored a fine individual effort in the 62nd minute to open the scoring against the run of play, before he stabbed home the winning goal six minutes from time after Michael Rose had grabbed an equaliser for Rochdale in between.
The Welsh youngster, pictured, was making only his fifth start since he was 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.
"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 to 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 on Saturday was fantastic. We have got three or four players in the group who can conjure something out of nothing 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 victory, but still refuses to accept his team 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 into 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 equalled their best run of home form for three-and-a-half-years after securing their fourth successive win 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 group of players deserves massive credit for doing that."