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James Rowberry: Bristol Rovers will be a "tough challenge"

4 March 2022

Newport County gaffer James Rowberry is expecting a "tough challenge" when in-form Bristol Rovers come to Rodney Parade on Saturday.

Bristol Rovers have won six of their last 10 games in the league, losing only one of those 10, and have flown up the table to 9th and just two points outside the play-off picture going into tomorrow's game. 

The reverse fixture will be well remembered by all County fans, with Newport winning the game 3-1 to get the James Rowberry era off to a perfect start in what was the current boss' first-ever game in charge of the Exiles - and indeed his debut as a Football League manager.

Naturally, that led to the gaffer looking back on his just-under five months in charge of County.

"I've had some good experiences in a short period of time and I'm loving every day of it, I'm really lucky to be doing what I'm doing," Rowberry said.

"I'm lucky to have great support from the hierarchy and from the support staff around me and the players, most importantly, have been terrific. I can't speak highly enough of them.

"Sometimes [management] can be a great place when things are going well but it can be a lonely place when things are not going so well.

"I've still got a lot to learn, I learn every day. All I try to do is everyday think 'How could I do that better?' or 'That was good, can I improve on it?'.

"I'm nowhere near where I want to be yet because I want the teams to be a reflection of me and I've got to keep working hard every day to make my players and staff the best that they can be. There's nothing better for me than seeing people do well."

Rowberry knows that Bristol Rovers will be a different challenge from the one County faced back in October.

"They are in good form, you look at their last 10 they've won six. They're on a decent bit of form to be fair and they've come on," he said.

"I think they've got a really good manager, they're a really good football club with a really good squad. It's going to be really tough challenge for us tomorrow but we've just got to focus on ourselves and our principles. We've got to try our best to impose them on the game.

"We won't deviate from our principles. I make that quite clear, I'm going to be quite stubborn on that because it's what I believe in and what I believe is right.

"Before I got the job someone said to me stick to your principles and stick to your beliefs because the moment you go away from that, that's your moment of weakness and shows you're not believing in what you're doing. We won't deviate from what we feel is right for our team."

The boss has a selection headache going into the weekend, with centre-backs Josh Pask, Priestley Farquharson and James Clarke unavailable due to injury and suspension respectively but Rowberry won't let that affect his squad.

"I don't see it as testing times, this is why we've got a squad. If we've got to do things in a slightly different way but we'll still stick to our principles. That's football - it's all part of the challenge.

"It's always a learning experience, always a learning day. We always look at 'could I do something better? Could we do something better?' I'm really relaxed, it is what it is. We've done everything as best we can with everything we can control so I can sleep well at night knowing that.

"Naturally, I just think from my point of view I just look at how we perform. I'm greedy in the sense that I'm trying to get the perfect performance. I think if we get that in my eyes, I think then we can get relative success.

"You get to this stage of the season where results are probably more important with the 12 games we've got to go. I just want to focus on game-to-game so our focus now will purely be Saturday with Bristol Rovers."


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