ROVERS returned to winning ways to secure the first win of John Ward’s new managerial reign with a vital three points against Plymouth on New Year’s Day.
The performance of the team provided the perfect start to 2013 and raised optimism that the Pirates can beat the drop. Ward has united players and supporters behind the cause and we were rewarded with a display full of commitment, energy and endeavour.
The arrival of three new players on loan at the start of the week also showed the hard work the manager has been putting in behind the scenes and they all played their part in a crucial 2-1 victory against the Pilgrims, which followed a battling 2-2 draw at Aldershot on Boxing Day.
John-Joe O’Toole, from Colchester, caught the eye in particular with an excellent performance to rightly be named man of the match. He added steel in midfield, rarely gave the ball away and could pick out a pass – all qualities we have been missing in that area of the pitch.
Goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall, on loan from Millwall, enjoyed a comfortable debut while QPR forward Tom Hitchcock showed some neat touches.
We started the game in bright fashion with the players eager to impress, which was a refreshing change from the lacklustre performances we had previously been enduring.
Players were selected in their right positions and we looked organised and focused.
However, it wouldn’t be Rovers without an anxious finale and sure enough we sat back too deeply in the second half and it was no surprise when they pulled a goal back. Luckily we held on for the win, with an electric Memorial Stadium atmosphere providing rousing support for the team.
The weaknesses in the squad would have been apparent to the manager after the game and he knows there is still much work to be done.
But with a couple more reinforcements, fans now believe we can stay up under Ward’s astute management.
The visit of league leaders Gillingham on Saturday is certain to provide a stern test but with the backing of a partisan crowd there is no reason why rejuvenated Rovers cannot cause an upset.
Do you agree with Jeff’s views? Have your say below.