Bristol Rovers boss John Ward refusing to set targets ahead of six-game February run
Bristol Rovers boss John Ward is refusing to set any specific targets ahead of a busy month that could go some way towards determining the eventual outcome of his side's continuing bid to avoid relegation.
Rovers go to promotion-chasing Cheltenham Town tomorrow night (7.45pm) for the first game of a run of six before the end of February that offers Ward and his side an opportunity to move safely towards mid-table going into the final two months of the campaign.
The manager, however, is only looking as far ahead as tomorrow night's trip to Whaddon Road and another difficult-looking assignment at Oxford United on Saturday and will be asking his players to do the same.
"There are no targets other than to do well in every game," Ward said. "It is always difficult to set targets because who could have guessed that we'd get nine points from our last three games?
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"If you overachieve from a block of games there is a danger that players may think a job is done. If you don't reach a certain target people think they have failed. It's simply for those reasons that I don't tend to set targets over a specific block of games.
"I know that it sounds a bit schoolboyish, but my message to the players continues to be just that they try and do their best every time they go out and play and then we'll see where that takes us."
Rovers boosted their survival chances with a morale-boosting success over Barnet at the Memorial Stadium on Friday night to move out of the bottom two for the first time in almost two months on the back of a three-game winning sequence.
"The players did a terrific job so we've said 'well done', but now it is forgotten and we move onto the next game," said Ward. "The fans can be excited, that's great, but we as a group know we have jobs to in the two diffciult away games to come. The players are professional enough to know that we are not anywhere near out of trouble yet.
"We played a very good Barnet side on Friday night and they are in the bottom two this morning, so that goes to show how competitive it is in and around the bottom six.
"We have to maintain what we are doing in terms of the hard work we have put in over the last few weeks and that is the most important thing that the players have to take on board.
"These players all have ability, but a desire to work hard is the first and foremost criteria that has been the major part in winning the last three games. If we get attitude and ability in the right order it gives us a chance going into every game."
Rovers, meanwhile, are expected to take around 1,500 supporters to Whaddon Road tomorrow night for what is considered a local derby of sorts and Ward added: "It is a great ground in terms of atmosphere because the stands are really tight to the pitch.
"We're hoping that we will fill the away end and that our guys can get their songs going and really drive us on.
"It will be a tough game for us and we will need to show the same sort of form we have in the last three games to get anything out of it.
"Cheltenham are in the top three and have just signed four or five new players with solid experience, who can play at this level and beyond it.
"I saw them beat Torquay on Saturday and I'm not surprised that they are where they are in the league at the moment."