Managerless Rovers are a threat, say Ward
COLCHESTER United boss John Ward is wary of the ‘wounded animal’ effect ahead of today’s game at Bristol Rovers.
Rovers saw their interest in cup competitions ended on Tuesday after Exeter City scored a last minute equaliser at the Memorial Stadium before securing victory on penalties in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
And following seven league games without a win – the south west side sitting in the relegation zone for the first time since they were promoted to League One in 2007 – chairman Nick Clegg decided to sack manager Paul Trollope after five years of service, putting assistant boss Darren Patterson in caretaker charge of The Pirates this afternoon.
“It’s always hard when you go to a club without a manager because the players are trying to prove a point,” said Ward, who spent three years as manager of Bristol Rovers himself (93-96).
“I went to their game on Tuesday night and you could argue that Paul was a minute away from keeping his job.
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“They’ve got some good players – (striker) Will Hoskins is really firing on full cylinders, (Byron) Anthony and (Danny) Coles (both centre-backs) have played at this level for a long time, while I think their keeper (Mikkel Anderson) is one of the best in the division. “Some of these players might want to turn it on against us so we know we’re going to have to play really well to get a positive result.”
The U’s moved back into the play-off places last weekend following a 0-0 home draw against Yeovil, but the Essex side have struggled to play the attractive football they showed at the beginning of the season for a number of weeks now.
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Loanee left-back Tom Williams has had a scan on his groin this week and is unlikely to feature today.
However, the U’s have a readymade replacement in the form of Marc Tierney as both he and midfielder Andy Bond are available again after recovering from recent hernia surgery.
Nine-goal loanee striker David Mooney will also be vying for a return to the starting XI after shaking off the virus which kept him out of the team last weekend.
Colchester have never won at Bristol Rovers – losing eight and drawing five of their 13 meetings there.
Ward managed the south west club for three seasons between 1993 and 1996, leading them to finishes of eighth, fourth (with a 2-1 play-off final defeat to Huddersfield) and 10th in the third tier of English football.
Less than a year after leaving the club he joined arch rivals Bristol City and helped them achieve promotion from the same division.
“It’s got the opportunity to be a big club,” said Ward, reflecting on his time at Rovers,
“Nearly 4,000 people turned up for their JPT match earlier this week so it is a well-supported club.
“I was manager of the club when they were at Twerton Park (a temporary home near Bath at the time) and the fans used to drive there on mass every other week.
“If we won they went home happy and if we didn’t they would get in their cars and just drive home again – they never persecuted me.
“That’s the type of supporters they’ve got. Even this week, just days after they got smashed 6-2 by Sheffield Wednesday, Paul (Trollope) was well-received by the supporters when he came out for the start of the Exeter game.
“Paul is a good, young, up-and-coming manager and when he gets his next job he’ll certainly be better for the experience.”
– For live match updates this afternoon follow Stuart_Watson on www.twitter.com.