John Ward's post match Southend interview
A hard fought game at Roots Hall last night saw Rovers deservedly take a point from a 1-1 draw against Southend.
It might well have been an away victory. Leading by Matt Harrold’s second half goal, they conceded an equaliser and had to withstand some pressure from the home side before creating a couple of chances to take all three points near the end of the game.
Manager John Ward was pleased with the performance and said afterwards; “I think the team’s attitude towards the game has been absolutely spot on and in terms of how we went about the job we were positive when we could be and had to be.
“I guess you are disappointed when you concede an equaliser after being ahead, but it’s hard for me to stand here and say Southend didn’t deserve it because they played a big part in a pretty tense football match.
“I’m happy enough and probably happier than their manager Phil Brown because you want to win your home games but I don’t think his team could have tried any harder, neither could mine.
The fact that it was his side’s first point on the road was a matter of some satisfaction to Ward.
“It’s a big thing for us and we spent this week discussing it and, with this being a Friday night game we have had a somewhat different week.
“I was at Roots Hall two weeks ago and under lights here it’s great and there is a nice atmosphere, the crowd are close and very vocal. I told the boys to expect a good night.
“We’ve responded really well to our recent away form, which has been poor, though they have all been tight games that have gone against us but this game has given us a point and when you are on your travels and haven’t got anything you have to be pleased with that.”
The game saw Matt Harrold and Ryan Brunt partnered together up front and also marked the return, after injury, of Seanan Clucas, who played the last 20 minutes after replacing Ollie Norburn.
“I felt good about the week. We made some decisions, as you saw tonight, with Ellis Harrison playing up front, a position he is happy in rather than playing in a wide position.
There was Seanan’s return and Tom Lockyer, who we now regard as a midfield player. Tom and John-Joe O’Toole are a really good partnership and will only get better so they are the decisions I’m talking about.
“After looking at the team for 11 games I’ve had some clear decisions to make in my mind and I made them tonight and been pleased with what’s happened.”
His side picked up four bookings in a game that was far from being dirty but it was O’Toole’s caution, his fourth of the season, which caused a degree of consternation.
“It was unnecessary and that’s why it’s good we have the likes of Clucas coming back.
“John-Joe kept his head last week and scored an equaliser for us but tonight he lost his head a little bit and he just puts his own game on a knife edge. He’s aware I’m not a fan of that and if he comes out of the
team through suspension then someone like Clucas can come in and keep him out of the side.
“I told him that three weeks ago about the risk he’s running and he has to be careful. “He’s a valuable player for us but he’s of no value when he’s not in the team and if someone takes their opportunity because of any suspension he receives then that’s his fault and no one else’s.”
John's interview in full can be heard on Gas Player along with post match interviews with Seanan Clucas and Matt Harrold