Eliot Richards determined to get back into the starting line-up at Bristol Rovers
BRISTOL Rovers striker Eliot Richards has vowed to prove he is worthy of a place in the starting line-up after he came off the bench to score the winning goal at Exeter on Saturday.
Richards was introduced to replace recent signing Tom Eaves on the hour mark at St James' Park and went on to score a 69th-minute goal to help Rovers secure their first win of the season.
The Wales Under-21 player has been in and out of favour with manager Mark McGhee since the start of the campaign and was forced further down the pecking order following the arrivals of Bolton youngster Eaves and former Celtic striker Derek Riordan on short-term deals last week.
"The manager has brought two new strikers in to help us score goals, but I want to show I can do that," said Richards.
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"I wanted to prove myself when I came off the bench and, luckily, I got the winner.
"I have had managers who have doubted me in the past and I have proved a couple of them wrong. Sometimes people get in their comfort zone, so I have got to push for my place now and, hopefully, I can do that."
Richards' strike officially opened his account for the campaign after the two 'goals' he scored at Adams Park earlier this season were chalked off after the game was abandoned.
"I was gutted about that," said Richards. "It's good to be off the mark now and, fingers crossed, there are more to come.
"It wasn't a sweet strike and the keeper has had a bit of a nightmare. He should have dealt with it, but if you don't shoot you don't score. As long as you hit the target, you give yourself a chance and this time it has gone in."
The victory at St James' Park moved Rovers' out of the bottom two for the first time since the early weeks of the campaign and Richards added: "The abandonment at Wycombe was a bit of a dent to our confidence, but hopefully this will spur us on. We have showed all season that we are capable of getting better results. We have passed teams off the park and just couldn't get that goal to win the game.
"We've got that all-important first win now and, hopefully, a few more results start to follow. We all expect to be up there challenging this season, so we need to kick on now and push up the league."
Meanwhile, Rovers youngsters Mitch Harding and Jordan Goddard have both joined Blue Square North club Gloucester City on month-long loan deals.
Former Bristol Rovers defender Craig Hinton has rejoined league Two club Northampton as youth-team coach.
Defender Hinton, who made 47 appearances for Northampton as part of a career that saw him play almost 500 senior games, will take charge of the club's under-18 side.
"We have been very fortunate to recruit someone like Craig," said Northampton academy head Trevor Gould.
"He was the club captain when he was here as a player, showing the sort of leadership skills he had and he is an excellent role model for the young players to look up to."