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League Two

John Ward hails Bristol Rovers team effort

12 February 2014

John Ward delivered more thank yous than an Oscar winner after seeing his Bristol Rovers team take another step towards League 2 survival with a 1-0 win over Cheltenham Town.

John-Joe O'Toole's 13th goal of the season was enough to settle a closely-fought Westcountry derby and lifted Ward's men to 18th, just two points behind Cheltenham.

The match went ahead after a 5pm pitch inspection and Ward was full of praise for the many people who had helped make it happen.

He said: "I have to thank my chairman and board for investing in a pitch cover, the ground staff who worked so hard and the many volunteer supporters who turned up at 4pm to remove the cover.

"Without all their efforts we would not have played. The reward was three points from a game in which both teams did well to master the conditions.

"We are now within two points of Cheltenham, yet no one has been talking about them being in trouble. That is a good gap to have closed.

"The 18 players I named were the only ones we had available. To keep a clean sheet with young Tom Lockyer in central defence, who is learning all the time, was a terrific effort."

O'Toole broke the deadlock in the 34th minute with a low shot from the edge of the box after a left-wing cross had cannoned off a Cheltenham defender.

Jamie Cureton might have put the visitors ahead against his old club early on when clear through the middle, but Steve Mildenhall advanced to make an important save.

Alan Gow went close for Rovers with a 25-yard shot that flashed inches wide, while Cheltenham's Sam Deering was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Tom Parkes in a close first half.

The visitors had the better of the second period and could have levelled but a 20-yard drive from Rovers old boy Steve Elliott hit the foot of a post and Cheltenham boss Mark Yates was far from downbeat.

"I can have no complaints about the commitment of my players and we just need a break at the moment," he said.

"We made several mistakes for the goal and, while there is no shortage of effort, we are struggling to win at the moment.

"There needs to be an improvement in all areas of our game. But if I get that work-rate from the lads in every remaining game this season we will be okay.

"I don't think we have what it takes to make the play-offs, but having said that the aim is to finish as high as possible.

"Bristol Rovers have added some good players to their squad in Alan Gow, Steven Gillespie and Kaid Mohamed. Fair play to them for that."


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