John Ward is not ready to describe his transformed Bristol Rovers team as unlikely play-off contenders following the 1-0 win over AFC Wimbledon.

But the supporters who gave the manager a standing ovation when he walked to the dug-out before the game are starting to dream.

A late strike from substitute Tom Hitchcock maintained the Pirates' remarkable run under Ward and pushed the struggling Dons closer to losing their League status.

Rovers were bottom of League Two when Ward replaced Mark McGhee in December. Now they are five points off a play-off position with four games left.

For all that, Ward said: "Three of our remaining matches are away from home where it is tougher to pick up points, so no one is getting carried away.

"My players are feeling delight at having secured 58 points. They have been looking at the table in the dressing room, but are not talking about the play-offs. Our supporters were fantastic and it would be wrong to ignore the part they have played in our success since I came back to the club.

"Wimbledon have a decent away record and were always going to be difficult opponents so I'm very pleased with the result.''

Hitchcock directed a well-placed volley beyond Dons goalkeeper John Sullivan from 12 yards with seven minutes remaining of a scrappy game. It undid a spirited defensive display from the visitors, but was an all too familiar story for their boss Neal Ardley.

He said: "It's our third successive 1-0 defeat. If I knew why we aren't seeing games out I would do something about it, but it has to stop. There is nothing wrong with the attitude of the players, although we are lacking quality in certain areas.

"Rovers have been in great form, yet I felt we more than contained them and were having the better of the second half. How the goal has come about I'm not sure, but it sums up the way things are going for us."