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League Two

Bristol Rovers manager John Ward has praised midfielder John-Joe O'Toole following his display against Exeter City

11 January 2014

Bristol Rovers boss John Ward has heaped praise on midfielder John-Joe O'Toole after he took his goal tally for the season into double figures with an injury-time winner to down Exeter City 2-1.

O'Toole acrobatically volleyed home a Chris Beardsley cross to snatch all three points, having netted a last-gasp FA Cup winner at Crawley in midweek.

The former Colchester player had earlier confidently converted a 21st-minute penalty, just seconds after the visitors had gone in front courtesy of Lee Brown's own goal.

It is the first time O'Toole has netted 10 times in a season, and Ward said: "John-Joe has an instinct for getting forward at the right time into scoring positions.

"I told him to sit deeper after Chris Beardlsley went on as substitute, but I'm not going to deter him from following his intuition.

"My players are developing a strong mental approach to go with excellent physical fitness and we have come from behind to win for the second time in a week.

"It's such an important result for us. Had we lost we would have been 12 points behind Exeter, but now the gap is six and we can look towards mid-table.

"Whether we deserved it or not I'll leave to others to judge, but we stood firm in the second half when Exeter put us under pressure and that gave us the chance to win."

Exeter might easily have won a closely-fought West country derby.

David Wheeler just failed to connect when Scott Bennett glanced a 71st-minute corner across goal while Rovers goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall saved well from Alan Gow before Sam Parkin saw his rebound effort blocked.

Grecians manager Paul Tisdale admitted: "We have given away two bad goals, one of them straight from the kick-off after we scored, and the result is all that counts.

"I threw on two attacking substitutes and ended the game with three strikers because I felt we were on top in the second half and could go on to win.

"But we have to defend better. Some of our younger players did extremely well again, which is a positive, but some of the experienced ones are letting them down.

"We have lost too many games that we should have won or at least drawn over the past month or so, which is disappointing."


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