Football - Ward praise for Pirates performance

John Ward was delighted by a rousing display which sent Bristol Rovers fans home full of festive spirit towards the end of a tough year as they disposed of Portsmouth 2-0 at the Memorial Stadium.

Ollie Clarke broke the deadlock five minutes before the break, rifling home a low right-footed half-volley from the edge of the box after being teed up by Eliot Richards. It was his first goal for Rovers and a sweet moment for a youngster who has had to overcome serious knee and hamstring problems.

David Clarkson doubled the lead after 77 minutes, lashing home a right-footed shot from an angle when Oliver Norburn's pass put him through.

Boss Ward said: "It was a really good team performance and it would be wrong to single out players because they all did well.

"We are all thrilled for Ollie Clarke because he has had to overcome some serious injuries for such a young player and this was his reward for a lot of hard work.

"You could tell by the way the other lads mobbed him how pleased they were for him. Although his job is to protect the back four, I have been encouraging him to get forward into shooting positions.

"The fitness of our team showed after slogging through the downpour in the abandoned cup tie at Crawley in midweek and I couldn't be happier.

"If you count that game we have only lost two of our last 12 matches and that is something to build on."

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