Coughlan delight as Rovers earn League One safety ‘against all odds’

Posted Sunday, April 28, 2019 by PA

Coughlan delight as Rovers earn League One safety ‘against all odds’

Relieved Bristol Rovers boss Graham Coughlan spoke of his pride after seeing his side secure League One safety “against all the odds”.

When Coughlan replaced Darrell Clarke as manager in December Rovers were in the relegation zone and on a four-game losing streak.

But since then the Pirates have managed to battle their way out of the bottom four and Saturday’s goalless draw at Fleetwood ensured they would be playing League One football again next season.

A delighted Coughlan, who joined Rovers in 2018 as defensive coach, said: “It was a job where we had no chance, it was against all the odds. We were cut adrift, four points adrift and the turnaround has been massive for us to be honest.

“It hasn’t been in the manner of the style that we would have liked to secure our survival but I think it has been built on a solid defensive foundation. That was our 18th clean sheet of the season and that was the job that I was brought in to do.

“I’m really pleased that we have got the job done and I’m really proud of the players and the staff that we have managed to turn it around and stay in this division.

“We have put our bodies on the line and this game was no different, we have had some really high, really positive moments that we have shown.

“We are much relieved, yes. We will still take on the criticism but the heart and desire and the character of this squad has got us over the line.”

In a low-key first-half of few chances, Rovers goalkeeper Jack Bonham saved well from Ashley Hunter’s low drive before keeping out Ched Evans’ rebound.

Fleetwood goalkeeper Alex Cairns was later forced to push Liam Sercombe’s well-hit effort away for a corner, while Evans looped Ross Wallace’s ball from the right just past the post for the hosts.

Fleetwood substitute Paddy Madden then hit the post with 20 minutes left after he cut into the box from the left to arrow in a shot right-footed.

Coughlan’s visitors had two late opportunities to earn all three points on their travels, with Ollie Clarke’s left-footed strike coming off Cairns’ left-hand post before Alex Jakubiak forced the Fleetwood stopper to tip around for a corner.

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton said: “At the start of the season I don’t feel that we could have controlled a game in such a manner.

“With one half that we played into the wind, we said to the lads that we have to be brave, we have to get the ball on the floor, our pitch is superb and stood on the sideline I was just wanting that goal.

“There was some really good passages of play, we are not at full strength at the moment with suspensions and injuries, which has meant that the younger lads have been given their opportunities.

“Young Harrison Biggins has been waiting for an opportunity all season, he looked really composed, as well as Eddie Clarke.

“There were really pleasing signs, Paddy hits the post, Ched has a couple saved. We’re just disappointed that we couldn’t get the winner.”


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