Football - Ward pours praise on Tounkara

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.

PA Sport

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.

"We showed a few little negatives, but the young lads in particular have battled hard and you can see the work-ethic is there.

"We've just got to keep going until the end of the season now. There will be no easing off or anything of that nature.

"We've had terrific support here again and we owe that to every single one of our fans."

Ward confirmed that goalkeeper Steve Mildenhall limped out of the pre-match warm-up with an ankle injury.

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