There can be no let-up now, warns Bristol Rovers manager John Ward
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward has told his players there can be no let-up in their battle for League Two survival after watching them extend their unbeaten run to five games on Saturday.
Lee Brown and Eliot Richards grabbed second-half goals to secure an impressive 2-0 victory over Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Saturday, which moved Rovers five points clear of the drop zone.
But Ward, pictured, said: "It's not enough. We'll take a five-point cushion at this stage simply because of where we have come from over recent weeks.
"There are still over 15 matches to play and that block starts with a very difficult game against an in-form Wycombe side at the Memorial Stadium next weekend, so there can be no let-up whatsoever.
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"It is an enjoyable time for everyone associated with the club at the moment, but we have to keep remembering how and why we have won these games. We've already made it very clear to the players in the dressing room that if even one of them slips below the level they have achieved recently it weakens the squad as a whole. I can't let that happen as the manager and I won't."
Ward, meanwhile, hailed the "phenomenal" work-rate his players showed to claim their fifth victory in eight games since he took charge of the side on December 17.
"It was an exceptionally hard effort from the boys," he said. "It was our third game in a difficult week against a side that had the luxury of a full week to recover after their last match.
"The pitch was heavy and we had to really battle our way towards a result. I'm really pleased at the way we have approached our business today.
"There are lots of different ways to win a game and for us this one was all about determination and desire. Oxford are a side in good form at this moment in time.
"It was imperative we came into the game to play in a way that wouldn't give them an opportunity to roll us over.
"It could have been different if they had got a break in front of goal, but it didn't happen for them and we managed to take advantage by getting a couple of goals of our own.
"We're delighted it has gone our way and I think the boys deserved it because the effort and work-rate they have shown in the last few games has been nothing short of phenomenal."
Ward was forced to withdraw Danny Woodards with a nasty-looking head injury in the second-half following an "unpleasant" high-footed challenge by Oxford midfielder Lewis Montrose.
"Danny is fine," said Ward. "He took a boot to the head and sustained two cuts that needed stitches.
"He got his head patched up and was back out on the bench with us to watch the final stages of the game."
Rovers have a full week to recover before they return to action against Wycombe Wanderers at the Memorial Stadium next Saturday and Ward said: "That's good.
"The players have run themselves to a standstill this week and they need a bit of a breather.
"We'll allow that to happen before we begin our preparations for a very tough game against Wycombe next weekend."