PREVIEW: Chesterfield v Bristol Rovers
Bristol Rovers defender Lee Brown says he can, for the first time this season, look at the League Two table without cringing.
Brown scored a spectacular effort from all of 25 yards to register the second goal in a 2-0 victory over Exeter City at the Memorial Stadium on Wednesday night – a win that helped Rovers continue their recent surge up the League Two table.
John Ward’s side moved into 15th place on the back of that success – their highest position of the season so far – less than three months on from propping up the rest prior to the arrival of manager John Ward to succeed Mark McGhee.
“When we were rock bottom of the league it was probably the hardest few months I’ve had since I’ve been involved in football,” Brown said.
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“Looking at the table and seeing the name Bristol Rovers at the bottom of it was horrible. It wasn’t nice for anyone in the squad. Sometimes people think you can leave the training ground or go home after games and forget about it, but I can tell you it’s not like that at all.
“When things aren’t going well for you at work in any walk of life it is hard not to let it affect what is happening away from it. I want to be successful in my career, just like everybody else, and it is certainly nice to be able to look at the table now and see us making progress up in the right direction.”
Rovers edged ever closer to safety after putting a nine-point cushion between themselves and the relegation zone, but Brown said: “We don’t look too far ahead.
“I know we are playing in Chesterfield on Saturday and then we have Port Vale in the following game, but I couldn’t tell you who we have after that.
“The only target we are setting ourselves is to try and get three points at Chesterfield and then we’ll set another target to get three points in the game after that.
“We’re two points behind Chesterfield ahead of the game on Saturday and it is another chance for us to climb another place. We’re looking up to see who we can catch now.”
Brown, meanwhile, has been instrumental in a consistent back five, which claimed a second successive clean sheet on Wednesday night - the fifth since Ward took charge 14 games ago.
“We try to be solid and hard to break down first and foremost,” said Brown. “You sometimes have to be measured in your approach to take control of a game before you can then press on to win it.
“Clean sheets are what we as defenders love to get. To have two on the bounce is a great achievement for everybody involved. If we keep clean sheets then we’ll always have a chance in every game.”
The players congregated in the centre-circle after the final whistle on Wednesday night to acknowledge the support from all sides of the Memorial Stadium and Brown added: “I love all that.
“It shows the togetherness we have at the moment, both amongst each other and with the supporters. I think John Ward has brought that to the club and it is that spirit which has been a major part in our improvement over the last couple of months.
“The club is in a good place at the minute. We feel we have the basic ingredients of a very good side going forward if we can just kick on and make sure we stay up.”