Mark McGhee pleased with spirited display by Bristol Rovers
BRISTOL Rovers boss Mark McGhee praised his players for the battling qualities they showed to end a difficult week by avoiding a third successive defeat.
McGhee, under pressure following back-to-back defeats at Rochdale and Port Vale, watched his team offer up a spirited display to draw 3-3 with Bradford City at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday and afterwards said: "I talked to the players before the game and told them that, more than anything, we had to give our supporters some sort of sign that we are out there.
"We have got a lot of players missing through injury, but we had to show people we still have the spirit within us that is required to show we want to do well for the supporters.
"That was the most important thing for me to come out of the game. The players, like me, will be disappointed we conceded three goals, but I think they showed a tremendous amount of spirit and there was also a number of really good individual performances.
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"I was very critical of some of them after we had lost at Port Vale on Tuesday night.
"Some of them didn't give me enough, but those I was critical of responded by offering me excellent performances.
"They had to respond because they needed to prove to me they have that sort of effort in them, because our supporters should not tolerate any less from any player every time he pulls a Bristol Rovers shirt on."
On-loan defender Guy Branston offered Rovers the lead inside two minutes with his first touch after securing a deal to arrive at the Memorial Stadium for a month on Thursday afternoon.
Tom Eaves and makeshift central midfielder Michael Smith scored the other goals in a game in which Bradford trio Nakhi Wells, Carl McHugh and James Hanson equalised on three occasions to leave matters all-square.
The performance, however, offered McGhee a boost at the end of a week in which supporters' frustration forced chairman Nick Higgs to publicly back his under-fire manager.
"I haven't heard about any of this talk," said McGhee. "I don't ignore it, I'm just not aware of it.
"I don't know where to find this talk, whether it's on websites or in newspapers.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm just trying to do the job to the best of my ability with what I have. That's all I can do and I'm quite happy to be judged on that.
"It was important for me that I was able to show our supporters that I was able to get the players up for a game. I was critical of the players on Tuesday night, but I cannot say a word against them after their performance today."
McGhee was still forced to field a patched-up side with David Clarkson, Fabian Broghammer, Tom Parkes and Matt Lund all unavailable through injury. Skipper Matt Gill was rated as only fit enough to appear on the bench, but all should be available for next weekend's clash with fellow strugglers Wycombe Wanderers.
The manager, however, will be without Cian Bolger for a further two weeks after the defender suffered a setback in training on his return from a knee injury.
Midfielder Wayne Brown will also be suspended after receiving a second yellow card for his part in a melee that followed a robust tackle by Seanan Clucas on a Bradford player in stoppage time. Bradford midfielder Nathan Doyle was also dismissed for kicking out at Clucas following the incident.
"I'm not sure if the referee actually thought Wayne had been the one who had made the tackle," said McGhee. "Seanan (Clucas) said something about Wayne being the one out of all the ruck that was singled out as being the one who had taken up an aggressive attitude."