Joey Barton hails Bristol Rovers ‘character’ after victory over Port Vale
Joey Barton praised his Bristol Rovers players for the character they showed in coming from behind to win 3-1 at promotion rivals Port Vale.
The Pirates conceded a second-minute goal, but efforts from Elliot Anderson and James Connolly put them 2-1 up at the break, with Ryan Loft securing a vital win with a third in stoppage time.
Barton, whose side stay fifth in League Two but are now only two points behind Vale, said: “The game had a bit of everything and the character of our team showed.
“To go a goal down in a big game like that in a hostile environment and to manage the first half in the manner that they did, to not only climb off the canvas but get themselves in the ascendancy, and then to give another performance in the second half was terrific.
“We challenged them to not just hang on to a 2-1 lead, we knew we had to be smart and calculated and win the second half.
“All credit to the lads, they won the first half 2-1 and the second half 1-0. We can’t ask for any more of them.
“I did feel on the touchline that they scored too early, but they are a really good side and they’ve had a great run.
“After that opening skirmish the lads showed a level of maturity way beyond the years of some of them.
“When you have players like we have you’re never out of any contest. They never give up, they’re as fit as they can possibly be and there’s an enormous amount of matchwinners in our squad and on our bench.”
Despite Jamie Proctor’s opening goal, Vale fell to their first defeat in 10 games.
But Andy Crosby, still standing in for Darrell Clarke as manager, insists they remain in a great position with three games remaining.
“We wanted our good run to last forever and we have been on a fantastic run of form, putting in good performances and collecting points and doing really well,” said Crosby.
“I just thought today they weren’t at it collectively and Bristol Rovers took advantage of the moments when they happened for them and they were clinical with their chances.
“We just didn’t create enough clear-cut chances today.
“We had a right go in the second half, we pinned them back but without creating those clear-cut opportunities.
“We’ve played 43 games, we’ve got three to go, our position is third and we can collect nine more points, so that’s what we’ll try to do. If we do that then it’s job done.
“The league table is irrelevant, I’ve been saying that for weeks. When we’ve played 46 games then we’ll look at the table and we’ll find out where we end up.
“We currently stand in a really good position because we’ve got ourselves into one and we’ll just keep concentrating on our performances.
“We’ve got a fantastic group of people and footballers, so we’ll go away and reflect on this and we’ll approach the next game at Walsall in the same manner, we’ll get on the front foot and be intense and we’ll go there intending to win.”
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