John Ward on victory at the Kassam
Bristol Rovers put in another outstanding team performance at the Kassam Stadium, Oxford, this afternoon, and returned home with all three points.
In the lead through Lee Brown’s twice taken penalty after 55 minutes they added a second, through Eliot Richards, in stoppage time.
In between the goals they defended well and looked solid at the back and the closest the home side came to scoring was through James Constable, who twice blazed shots over the bar from close range.
Manager John Ward was delighted with another three point haul and with the way his side worked so hard to earn victory.
“We did have to work hard,” said Ward, “and the boys put in an exceptional effort in their third game in a week.
“Oxford didn’t have a midweek game and came into this one not having played since last Saturday, so it was a massive win for us.”
It was heavy going on a difficult surface.
“Conditions weren’t ideal; the pitch was heavy, but I decided to select the same team that had done so well at Cheltenham in a tough match and we had to battle our way through this one and did so really, really, well.
“We scored from the penalty spot and again at the end, with a good bit of bright play, and I was delighted we still had our wits about us to attack so quickly at that stage of the game.”
There were few complaints from anyone about the validity of the spot kick, which came after Ryan Brunt was fouled by home skipper Jake Wright.
“None of their players complained about the penalty decision, and I think it was the right call. Lee Brown deserves a great deal of credit for keeping his nerve to take the resulting penalty twice.
“This team are keeping their nerve at the moment, both collectively and individually, and I think that just showed the mental strength that he, and the team, has from winning matches.
There were times in the game when Rovers were forced back.
“We defended stoutly throughout, because we had to as we came under a lot of pressure but we showed two cool finishes at the top end.
“Things are happening nicely for us at the moment and we, and the fans, are enjoying it. However we have to keep remembering how, and why, we keep winning games. Our defending had to be really strong today and that helped us through.”
Danny Woodards, injured during the game and substituted by Fabian Broghammer, was back out on the pitch celebrating victory with his colleagues at the final whistle.
“He has two cuts and stitches in both wounds, so we weren’t going to take any chances by keeping him on the pitch. It was a pretty unpleasant challenge on him but he was out there with the team instead of lying on the bench feeling sorry for himself. He wanted to be out there with his colleagues and our supporters. He will be fine and ready for next week.”