Ipswich boss reveals Joey Barton apology after Bristol Rovers draw

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The Tractor Boys were held to a goalless draw by a Gas side without a win in five

Ipswich Town manager Kieran McKenna has revealed that Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton apologised to him after the two sides played out a 0-0 draw at the Memorial Stadium.

The Rovers manager has seemed to shift his tactics heavily for the fixture, looking to get men behind the ball and stop Ipswich’s considerable goal threat. They did carve opportunities of their own, but it was Ipswich that had the better of the chances, but it was a solid defensive performance.

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The Gas have have come under the spotlight for the amount of goals they have conceded, coming off the back of four league defeats on the trot, including a 5-1 thrashing away to Morecambe, so a change was in the offing. The personnel did not change with the same back four deployed from the defeat against Lincoln, but there was a shift to stand up to the side from Suffolk.

“We’re playing against a Bristol team who are usually really positive, really open,” said McKenna. “Their manager who, credit to his honesty, usually sets his team up in an aggressive manner, apologised to me straight after the game that they didn’t want to take us on in an open game of football tonight.”

“They’re probably the most open and aggressive team in the league who are at home, who have defended with eleven men against us in their half of the pitch.”

The Gas have so far conceded 53 goals in 31 games, the third worst in League One, and the goalless draw gives Barton’s side just their sixth clean sheet of the season, defensive stability will be welcomed by Gasheads.

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Impressive performances from January signings Ellery Balcombe and Jarell Quansah put their new side on the road for their first defensive shutout in ten league games, with the latter throwing his body in front of a goalbound shot from Nathan Broadhead late on in the contest.

McKenna added: “You have to say that they defended their goal with a lot of bodies, they put their bodies on the line, they blocked shots and their goalkeeper made a couple of good saves.”

“It’s not an easy place to come but when they set up like they do today, defending in such a low block with so many bodies and they have threats on the counter attack it’s not an easy game.”

The away side had 66% of the possession, and despite having 21 attempts on Balcombe’s goal, with seven of those on target, the promotion chasers were unable to break down a resolute Rovers defence, with the Gas having arguably the better of the chances to win the game, casting McKenna a frustrated figure.

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“It’s points dropped today, I thought we did good things in the game but the frustration is that we didn’t score a goal.”

“We had two big chances inside the first two minutes that we needed to put into the back of the net. It’s a difficult game in all honesty but to come here and draw is not a disaster of course.”

“Tonight we tried, we mixed our game up, we crossed it, we put long balls in, we put balls into feet, we tried to go round the side but we weren’t able to find the finishing touch.”

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