Burton boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was happy to see his side “find a way” to grab a 1-0 win over 10-man Bristol Rovers.
Jonny Smith scored the only goal of the game as the Brewers moved out of the bottom four in Sky Bet League One.
“We knew from the start it was going to be a very difficult match,” Hasselbaink said. “We didn’t play well, especially not in the first half, but we were a bit better second half.
“We can’t play every match well and you have to find a way and we found a way to win. Some will say it wasn’t deserved, but I’ll take the three points.”
Former Bristol City winger Smith scored with a goal that was somewhat out of character in a scrappy match, but Hasselbaink was delighted with his January transfer window signing.
“Jonny is somebody who can create and who is difficult to defend. He is quick and direct and he can create that kind of moment, which is what we needed, and he came up with it,” Hasselbaink added.
Not one for looking at the league table, Hasselbaink acknowledged his side’s rise out of the relegation zone for the first time since September, but knows there is plenty more hard work to do.
“It is positive,” he said. “If this was the last game of the season then I would look at the table and be jumping for joy and saying ‘come upstairs and have a beer’. But we are still far away from that.
“This is a good step but we now have to look at the next challenge.”
Bristol Rovers’ new manager Joey Barton was left to rue two yellow cards for on-loan Chelsea midfielder Luke McCormick that saw Rovers slip from a position of strength at half-time to losing the match early in the second half.
Defeat leaves his new charges just a point about the drop zone, and he said: “That’s the key decision that flips the contest.
“It was a very comfortable night until we went a man behind. Obviously at that point it gave them a bit of a boost and by the time we had reorganised we found ourselves, not only a man down, but a goal down.
“Credit to the boys, I thought they still played some good stuff and kept plugging away to the end and Josh Grant has a great chance at the back post.
“We think he is pushed, but like most things for us tonight the referee missed them. He seemed to see everything and was very pedantic about every little decision to do with Rovers, but on the flip side of that he was quite lenient when it came to the Burton players.
“We should have been a goal or two up at half-time but for some good defending and a couple of good saves from the keeper. We asked the lads to lift it a bit second half and there looked to be only one winner until the sending-off.”