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League Two

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke feeling tension

5 April 2014

Bristol Rovers boss Darrell Clarke has called on his side to toughen up after grinding out a 0-0 draw at AFC Wimbledon that leaves them nervously looking over their shoulders.

Goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall was the Pirates' hero, denying the Dons' Jack Midson on three occasions as Rovers made it four points from three games since Clarke took the reins.

Rovers rarely threatened but thought they should have had a penalty when Matt Harrold was hauled down by Darren Jones in the closing stages.

The point leaves them in 21st place, just four points above the drop zone after wins for Northampton and Wycombe, and Clarke admits he can see nerves creeping in.

"It's tense, you can see that with the players," he said. "They're tense, they're edgy, they don't want to make mistakes.

"But we need more and we know we need to win more. I'm not going to pull the wool over anybody's eyes.

"We've got to be better, but it's a point gained and it might be a great point at the end of the season.

"Do we need more? Do we need to be better? Yes, in all areas of the pitch. But I have a full week on the training pitch to work on a few mindsets as well as training because I'm concerned one or two are going through the motions a little bit and letting the occasions get to them when we needed stronger characters.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't look at other results, but it's all in our hands. We've got teams to play who are down there, so we need characters, mentally strong players and to do better than we did here."

The Dons dominated for large spells with Midson rounding Mildenhall but fluffing his lines before seeing the goalkeeper tip over his 20-yard shot before denying him from close range.

Crystal Palace loanee Kwesi Appiah also twice went close on his first start and with his side now six points from safety Dons boss Neal Ardley remains bullish.

"I thought [Appiah] was excellent, I thought he looked like he might score, he got a couple of good shots off," said Ardley.

"He didn't dart across defenders or get onto crosses into the box. He will learn in this league you can't out-jump these centre-halves.

"But he was assured, had a very good touch, good movement. This was a test with the pace of it and it's been really pleasing from him.

"Defensively I thought we looked sound, we did all our jobs. I can't fault the boys - we look strong, we look fit, we kept driving on.

"All week we're working at going forward, we're working at scoring goals. We've done everything we practiced but we just couldn't get the ball into the back of the net.

"We need to pick up a win or two from the remaining five games to get us where we need to go."

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