Gary Bowyer lauded the impact of veteran striker Ian Henderson after Salford reignited their play-off hopes with a 2-0 win at Forest Green.
Henderson’s brace consigned faltering Rovers to a third defeat on the spin as their promotion ambitions took a blow.
Bowyer, who toasted his first win since joining Salford a fortnight ago until the end of the season, said: “Ian (Henderson) is popular and leads by example and you could see how everyone was pleased for him.
“Not just the players on the pitch, but the substitutes and the coaching staff on the bench as well.”
And the former Blackburn and Bradford boss was delighted with his side’s application, but vowed to take it one game at a time ahead of the remaining eight fixtures, with his side sitting five points shy of the play-offs.
He added: “I thought we were terrific. It was a massive team effort against a very good side.
“We had to be really aggressive and press them because Mark Cooper gets them playing in a variety of ways.
“We worked ever so hard and I was delighted with the quality of the goals.
“It was great to see the smiles on the players’ faces at the end and hear the noise they were making in the dressing room.
“I’ve only been here a couple of weeks, but they have given me everything.
“It’s exciting in both League One and League Two at the moment with the number of sides trying to get into the play-offs.
“This club’s done brilliantly in the last couple of years to be where they are and what we’ll do now is take it one game at a time and see where we end up.
“This result keeps it alive and now we have to back up this performance. While there’s everything to play for we’ll keep going.”
A moment of sublime quality broke the first-half mediocrity when 36-year-old Henderson thumped home his 13th goal of the season – a sumptuous half-volley into the top corner of Luke McGee’s net from 25 yards in the 38th minute.
Henderson killed the game off for Salford with his second in the 77th minute thanks to George Boyd, who stepped off the bench to deliver a pin-point cross for the in-form striker to volley comfortably across the exposed McGee.
Rovers were toothless up front as their automatic-promotion ambitions took another tumble, but they remain just two points outside the top three.
Boss Cooper urged his side to take responsibility as the season enters the final furlong.
“The players need to step up and take their opportunities,” insisted Cooper.
“If you don’t match the opposition for work-rate, you’ll get beaten.
“We have been fantastic up to the last three weeks, but somebody has to step up and walk through the door and put their hand up.”
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