Pirates boss finds real treasure in Newport's Ellis Harrison
6:20am Monday 18th March 2013 in Latest Football
BRISTOL Rovers boss John Ward was full of praise for Newport teenager Ellis Harrison after his two goals sealed victory over Rochdale at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday and eased the Pirates’ League Two relegation fears.
Harrison scored a fine individual effort in the 62nd minute to open the scoring against the run of play before stabbing home the winning goal six minutes from time after Michael Rose had grabbed an equaliser for Rochdale in between.
The Pill youngster was making what was only his fifth start since being handed a full debut by Ward at Fleetwood on January 12 and the manager said: “I was short of players that day, but now Ellis is in on merit because of the way he has gone about his job.
“He’s been in and out of the side since because we don’t want to put too much pressure on him, but he has been very mature about that.
“Ellis is a young man who can score goals and is more than willing to take people on.
“For me, as a coach, all you can do is to try and encourage him to do those sorts of things.
“He hasn’t done well at times because he is young and inexperienced, yet he has bounced back every time and that character will stand him in great stead to have a really great career in football.”
Ward added: “He still has a lot to learn but he is getting better and his first goal was fantastic for us. We have got three or four players who can conjure something out of nothing in the group and when you are up against it you sometimes need someone to produce that.”
Ward’s gushing praise for Harrison was in stark contrast to the attitude of his predecessor Mark McGhee towards the 19-year-old.
Speaking to the Argus after Rovers’ 2-0 defeat to Newport County AFC in a pre-season friendly last July the Scot damned Harrison with faint praise.
“Ellis is a player I have high hopes for, he’s physically a strong specimen, has good skills and he’s a lovely boy to work with,” said McGhee, who was sacked as Rovers boss in December.
“He’s a boy who wants to improve and he has a chance.
“There are a lot of people ahead of him at the moment but if he works hard he’ll at least have a chance to make an impression from the bench, or he’ll be loaned out to get some experience elsewhere.”
McGhee is now assistant to new Scotland manager Gordon Strachan and will face Wales at Glasgow’s Hampden Park in Friday night’s World Cup 2014 qualifier.