25 January 2022

Joey Barton ‘wasn’t particularly worried’ despite late Scunthorpe fightback

25 January 2022

Ice cold Joey Barton insisted he managed to keep his cool on the touchline – despite his Bristol Rovers team almost snatching a draw from the jaws of victory against second-bottom Scunthorpe

Josh Grant’s clinical finish, an Antony Evans penalty and a fine individual effort from Leon Clarke had the Gas cruising to a first away win since October on a chilly evening in Lincolnshire.

Yet goals in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage time from Scunthorpe’s Sam Burns meant Rovers had to endure a nervy final few moments before being able to celebrate three points.

“We made harder work of it than we should have done, but even though they got two late goals I wasn’t particularly worried due to the fact that we were so in control that it could have been a cricket score,” Barton said.

“We were disappointed we haven’t put five, six or seven on them such were the opportunities we created.

“Credit to Scunthorpe, they haven’t scored in a while but they got a goal and it brought a bit of belief to a young side.

“For the last minute they had half a chance when they should have been dead and buried.

“I was very pleased with many, many aspects of the performance – the only thing that was missing was keeping the back door locked and getting a clean sheet.”

Grant capitalised on some good work up the byline by Sam Nicholson to fire Rovers ahead in the 36th minute, and the only surprise about the second goal – scored by Evans from the spot – was that it took until just after the hour mark to arrive.

When substitute Clarke rounded home goalkeeper Rory Watson to slot home with 12 minutes to go, there was no suggestion of what was to follow as the contest ticked towards full-time.

Blackburn loanee Burns scrambled home his first senior goal from Tyrese Sinclair’s cross, and did not have to wait long for his second as he fired across goal and into the far corner after charging into the box.

Although too late to plunder anything against the Pirates, Iron boss Keith Hill hopes the late fightback can give his side’s survival hopes a shot in the arm.

He said: “It was an emotional rollercoaster. We went from the depths of despair to a little bit of euphoria at the end.

“I’m so pleased that we didn’t go under and I’m pleased Sam Burns got the rewards for his hard work and his honesty.

“I was pleased with our response, but let’s be right, it wasn’t a night for our central defenders – we really suffered as a consequence of not defending properly.

“The worry as a manager in a game like that is that you go on to lose by four, five or six and then you can be talking about real collateral damage and scar tissue.

“It’s at times like that you can see what your players are made of and we showed great spirit.”

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