Peterborough United winger Joe Ward’s dramatic improvement is partly down to the backing from the club’s fans.
That’s the opinion of the man himself, a 23 year-old whose goalscoring man-of-the-match display in the 3-1 FA Cup win at Bromley on Saturday (November 10) earned plenty of praise from those supporters who frequnt social media sites at weekends.
Ward now was three goals this season and he’s become a fixture in the Posh starting line-up. Few would have predicted that after a stop-start opening to his Posh career in the second half of last season.
Ward joined Posh after impressing, and scoring, against them in a second round FA Cup tie for non-league Woking last season.
“Seeing all that praise from fans is a real boost for the confidence,” Ward said. “It’s definitely helping me.
“I just want to keep helping this team by scoring, creating goals and by working hard. I have to work hard up and down the wing every game, but I’m ejoying it. The manager wants to me defend well as well as getting out wide and helping offensively.
“It’s a demanding role, but I’ve definitely improved defensively. I’ve been comfortable in quite a few positions this season.
“The FA Cup is a magical competition. It helped me get my move to Peterborough and we were delighted to get through a tie at Bromley on a playing surface which gave them a big advantage.
“I enjoyed my goal. I lunged in and won the ball near my own area, passed it on and just kept running and Tyler Denton played a perfect pass to me.
“I could hear (hat-trick seeking) Matt Godden screaming for the ball, but I’d squared a couple in the first half when I should have shot so I fancied taking this one on myself.
“Luckily I struck it well and it went in.
“We’re not bothered about who we play in the second round. We will deliver a professional performance against whoever we play and hopefully we will get the job done again.”
Posh boss Steve Evans dumped a lot of last season’s squad in the summer, but kept Ward, a decision that has already paid dividends.
“Joe has been excellent for us this season,” Evans stated. “He’s everything I want in a winger, one who works hard, doesn’t shirk his defensive duties and who scores and creates goals. He’s done all of that as well as working hard on his fitness.
“It’s a big move from Woking to Posh and it obviously took Joe a little while to come to terms with it, but we saw something in him and it’s worked out well.”
The draw for the second round of the FA Cup takes places tonight (November 12, from 7pm) on BBC Two.