John Ward so proud of Bristol Rovers after victory at Rotherham
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward declared himself "proud" of his players after they won 3-1 at Rotherham and lifted themselves off the foot of League Two by securing back-to-back victories for the first time this season.
The Pirates followed their impressive victory at Fleetwood Town with success against Rotherham at the New York Stadium on Saturday, thanks to goals from Lee Brown, Ellis Harrison – his first strike for the senior team – and Joe Anyinsah.
Ward, pictured, said: "I'm proud of my team for what they have achieved here. It is good (to get off the bottom of the table) because we have been on a decent little run over the last five games.
"That hasn't been reflected in our league position because others around us have been doing well also. It is just the first step and I don't want it to stop there. This was a slightly different game to the one we won at Fleetwood a couple of weeks ago and we had to approach it in a different way. It would have been easy to pick the same team, but this was a different opposition and I also had a bit more choice in terms of team selection.
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"Rotherham started the game very strongly and the players had to show some strength of character and discipline to come through that.
"The game settled into a bit of a pattern after the opening 20 minutes, but when we got the penalty from which Lee Brown gave us the lead just before half-time, it gave us an impetus.
"To score two more goals in the second half, by playing some very good counter-attacking football and showing some real moments of quality, was very pleasing.
"We had to be a bit more dogged and strong here than we were at Fleetwood, but there was a real discipline about the players and they are responding well to what we are asking them to do."
When Ward was informed that Rovers had secured their first back-to-back victories in almost a year, he said: "We got our first clean sheet for a number of months at Fleetwood, so all these little things are adding up to help the players have a bit more belief about what they are capable of achieving.
"They have been extremely positive over the last few weeks and they have been rewarded for that by getting two massive away wins against teams with realistic ambitions of getting out of this division.
"The last two performances have been really good for the players and the supporters and now we have to go and back it up by trying to produce a performance of similar quality against Barnet at the Memorial Stadium on Friday night."
Ward said he doesn't anticipate the arrival of any more new faces before the transfer window closes on Thursday night, but will step up his attempts to extend the loan of Colchester midfielder John-Joe O'Toole before his initial one-month deal expires tomorrow.
"I don't really anticipate much more happening transfer-wise at this moment in time," he said. "My biggest concern is to try to get John-Joe O'Toole to stay with us for a bit longer because he was excellent for us again."
Harrison scored a fine goal in the 52nd minute after picking up the ball on the halfway line, before advancing unchallenged into the penalty area and smashing the ball past Rotherham goalkeeper Andy Warrington.
The youngster had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes when he scored, having replaced Eliot Richards, and Ward said: "We know Ellis has got that sort of quality in his locker and I'm delighted for him.
"I'd like to take some credit for the substitution, but, in all honesty, I took Eliot off because he was on a yellow card and he'd gone in for a risky challenge that could have seen him sent off on another day."
Ward was also full of praise for debutant striker Ryan Brunt after he was asked to lead the line on his own following his move from Stoke City earlier this week. "I thought he was outstanding," said Ward.