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League Two

Ward pours praise on Tounkara

2 April 2013

Bristol Rovers boss John Ward was full of praise for French striker Oumare Tounkara after he scored twice in a convincing 4-2 triumph at stuttering Dagenham.

After a handful of substitute appearances, Paris-born Tounkara was finally handed his first Rovers start having arrived on a short-term deal at the end of February, and he repaid Ward's faith in some style.

"I was really pleased Oumare got through the full 90 minutes," Ward said. "He is a real threat and he's got that power which can give opposition defences plenty of headaches at this level.

"He has lifted the team most certainly and he's an unselfish lad too. He was through for his hat-trick late on, but instead he squared the ball for Ryan Brunt who had a chance himself to score. That's a good additional quality to have.

"He's only had bits and pieces of opportunities with us so far, but he's worked himself into my thinking now of course. This was definitely his day and everyone was pleased for the lad."

Looking back on the win overall - in which John-Joe O'Toole and Danny Woodards also netted - Ward added: "I knew the lads would need a huge physical effort just 48 hours after a tough game on Saturday, but they've delivered. That's testament to our backroom staff. The fitness levels among the players are really high."

Ward confirmed that goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall limped out of the pre-match warm-up with an ankle injury, to be replaced by young stopper Conor Gough at the last minute.

At three-nil down, Dagenham pulled a goal back when Ben Strevens bundled home Gavin Hoyte's cross, with substitute Jake Reed later tapping home a consolation to make it 4-2.

Daggers interim boss Wayne Burnett was left frustrated with his side's defending in the early stages of the game. After presiding over a fifth match without a win, Burnett said: "Once you concede three goals inside the opening 20 minutes in a game you're always going to be up against it.

"That's certainly been the case. We've lost concentration too many times at the back and we've ended up giving ourselves a massive mountain to climb. Fair play to Bristol, they've been clinical up front, but we can't be defending in that fashion."

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