JAMES Rowberry praised his side for showing grit in overcoming a stubborn Stevenage side on Saturday.

The hosts were winless in seven heading into the match, but enjoyed the best chances of the first half, forcing Nick Townsend into two important saves.

But County dug deep and – despite two enforced changes before the second half – managed to strike a clinical blow just after the break through Rob Street.

And after a spell of pressure from Stevenage, Ryan Haynes cut inside to curl in a second from distance.

The win moves County into the automatic promotion places with 10 games remaining.

“I think we underestimated the conditions first half – the wind, the sun, and how that affected us in the first half,” said Rowberry after the match.

“We couldn’t really get our game going. I felt the game stagnated – it took a long time for restarts and we couldn’t get ourselves going.

“We came out the traps in the second half and got the goal and got that thoroughly deserved win from all aspects.

“You always need that second goal to try and get in a stronger position in the game and we did that.

“And then we’ve seen it out with a clean sheet. That’s back-to-back clean sheets. I can’t remember the last time we’ve done it since I’ve been here. I’m delighted.

“We’ve still got areas to improve, and we will improve. But it’s 2-0 away from home, a clean sheet, against a team fighting for their lives who have got an excellent manager.

“We’ve shown our grit today.”

When asked what he said to encourage such a fast start in the second half, the boss said: “It’s nothing to do with me, it’s down to the players and their work rate and their attitude.

“Since I’ve been here they’ve been first class.

“All I ask for is full maximum effort in attitude and desire and they’ve shown that, especially in the second half.”

The win means County have moved into third, above Tranmere on goal difference and one behind second-placed Northampton.

But despite this, Rowberry refused to be drawn on talk of promotion.

“We’ve got to go now and play Carlisle who have won four on the spin and beat Northampton today,” he said. “So our focus purely goes onto Carlisle.

“It’s our next game mentality. We’ll stay in the moment, we’ll reflect on this now today and tomorrow, and start preparing for Carlisle on Monday.”