Bristol Rovers manager on status of two key players after pair miss defeat to Carlisle United

Joey Barton was forced to make changes to his Bristol Rovers side against Carlisle

<p>The absence of Antony Evans and Nick Anderton disrupted Bristol Rovers today. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)</p>

The absence of Antony Evans and Nick Anderton disrupted Bristol Rovers today. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton said his side were disrupted in their 1-0 loss to Carlisle United after being dealt with two injuries to two of his key players.

The Gas, who had named an unchanged team for four games in a row, was forced into making two changes after Antony Evans and Nick Anderton, were both absentees.

Glenn Whelan and Sam Nicholson were brought in to the side but both were substituted after falling behind to the Blues.

Kristian Dennis scored the only goal of the game for Paul Simpson’s Carlisle, who inflicted just their third League Two defeat of 2022 on Barton’s men.

“We lost Evo in the week to a little bit of a niggle,” said Barton to BBC Radio Bristol. “He’s our major source of creation and inspiration.

“Losing Nick this morning to a fitness test after picking up a knock in training yesterday does disrupt you a little bit.

“We had to move Harry (Anderson) around and we brought Sammy Nicholson in a little bit earlier than we would have wanted to after he missed a bit of game time.”

Nick Anderton missed out on a return against his former side Carlisle United. (Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images)

The promotion picture has become tighter again for them after the sides around them picked up points with some sides having games in hand over Rovers.

Port Vale, Newport County and Tranmere, are all on 63 points whilst Mansfield Town with three games in hand, are just a point behind and play on Tuesday.

Attention will now turn to whether the pair will be available for next Saturday’s match with Bradford City at the Memorial Stadium with Gasheads hoping this is just a slight slip-up in their bid for promotion.

Barton said: “Both are in with a shout, maybe or maybe perhaps the game after that. I’m not sure with how the games are spaced out but certainly, you want to pick the same team.

“We’ve managed to do that through the Saturday-Tuesday and it’s sod’s law the time you get a Saturday-Saturday you pick up a couple of niggles.

“We had more than enough quality out there today and if we keep showing that endeavour and commitment for each other, we’ll get what we need to get where we want to go from now until the end of the season.”

It was a fairly even game on reflection with both sides creating plenty of chances. Carlisle had 15 shots and five on target to Rovers’ 18 with seven at Mark Howard’s goal.

Most of Rovers’ threat came in the first-half with a few half opportunities for Elliot Anderson outside of the box. There was also a chance for Sam Finley though the midfielder could only toe poke his shot at goal.

A late chance in the eighth minute of stoppage time saw Elliot Anderson put a low ball across to Harvey Saunders but a telling touch from Daniel Devine stopped the substitute from scoring.

It ended up being the last chance of the match with Rovers frustrated that the decision didn’t go in their favour in what was a crucial point in the match

He said: “It’s strange. We felt we were fully in control of the game. Even at half-time, we were just asking for a bit more quality in the final third and in and around the box.

“I never thought it was a game we were gonna lose. But when it’s tight and it’s 0-0 and they’re in a bit of form and they’ve got a passionate crowd behind them, we concede and we give them something to hold on to. I can’t fault the lads with their endeavour. Sometimes you need a little bit of luck in football.

“There’s a ball from Elliot Anderson that goes across the six-yard line, Harvey Saunders is waiting there to tap in and their player deflects it just out of his reach and the referee misses it.

“We don’t get the corner and we don’t get the goal and Harvey gets a yellow card for protesting.”