Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton revealed nothing he witnessed in his side’s defeat to Wycombe Wanderers makes him believe the Chairboys ‘are a good side’.
A header from defender Joe Low and a neat finish from Gareth McCleary were enough to secure Wycombe’s first win away from home this season, and also their first victory on their travels since April.
However, Barton believed they were up to their ‘old tricks’ of time wasting and criticised the direct style of play that Chairboys fans have become accustomed to.
The Gas had 12 attempts but only registered one shot on target, as Harvey Vale pulled a goal back within the final ten minutes.
When asked about their woes in front of goal, the 40-year-old boss blamed the new stand knocking out the sprinkler system as a contributing factor, before revealing he was praying for rain throughout the game.
Wanderers continued their impressive record at the Memorial Stadium, with seven victories in their last 11 outings in Bristol, meanwhile the former Fleetwood Town boss proceeded to maintain a dismal run against the Buckinghamshire-based side which has seen him lose five times and win only once in nine games as a manager.
Defeat marks the continuation of a difficult start to the 2023/24 season for Rovers, with just one victory in their opening five league games leaving them 17th in League One, whilst they were also knocked out in the first round of the Carabao Cup by Championship outfit Ipswich Town.
In contrast, Matt Bloomfield’s side have recovered from back-to-back 3-0 defeats in the third tier, accumulating seven points in their last three games to sit 14th.
What’s been said?
Speaking to the club’s media team post-match, Barton said: “We’ve got to work on a few things before we can say we’re this promotion thinking team, but there’s nothing that I saw this afternoon, that made me think Wycombe are a good side.
“They had a game plan that set off, they ran the clock down, wasted time, all these old tricks that they are very good at.
“From our end, it’s about learning and to the greatest of respects to them, I thought we were the better footballing team.
“If I had to pay money to go and watch one of the two teams, I wouldn’t be particularly happy with lumping it the way that they do.
“They’ve done a number on us so we need to back to the training ground and get better.”
On the inability to convert chances, the former Premier League midfielder added: “With our new stand being put in, it’s knocked out the sprinkler system so it [the pitch] couldn’t get wet.
“We managed to get some spitting as it’s rare that you’re hoping for rain.
“They’re probably the worst team to play against on a bone dry pitch with a big 5-4-1, as they have that defensive unit.”
The best kind of football is winning football, and I’m sure Wycombe fans won’t mind how they go about it if they continue to pick up three points.
On paper, Bristol Rovers have been handed a tough fixture list in this opening month, and it is too early to read into anything by looking at the league table, but Barton must find a solution about how to pick up results against physically strong and resolute sides.