This is why Alfie Kilgour wasn’t in Bristol Rovers starting line-up against Lincoln

The Gas boss promised a ‘barmy’ team selection and opted not to play a recognised centre-back
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Joey Barton has explained his rationale behind not choosing a recognised centre-half as Bristol Rovers were hit for six by Lincoln City.

The Gas are short on numbers through injury and suspensions which left them without three of their first-choice defenders which made for a makeshift defence.

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Glenn Whelan, Luca Hoole and Lewis Gordon played in a three-man central trio despite either player having played there throughout their various careers.

Rovers fell 5-1 behind at a point but persisted with the players on the pitch instead of trying to sure up the back-line after conceding so many goals at home.

Explaining his decision to go attacking against a side and not play a centre-back despite Alfie Kilgour's availability, the 40-year-old defended his commitment to attacking football.

"It’s the first madcap game we’ve had in my tenure and that’s the lottery of football," he admitted. Sometimes when you pick a barmy team selection, it can work for you.

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"I thought there were some really good bits in there, some really good football. There are loads of bits we need to get better at but the perverse mindset of me as a coach will take a lot of positives out of that.

"Mainly being the togetherness and the character of the fans with the team, it’s important."

Barton did have Alfie Kilgour at his disposal after his red card against Ipswich Town was overturned but he was only named as a substitute and did not enter the pitch.

After overcoming an injury from last season, the 24-year-old had been given an opportunity in previous games in the absence of James Connolly and Lewis Gibson.

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Questions will have been asked over his lack of appearance both before the match and when there were obvious defensive frailties on show, but the former Newcastle United midfielder stuck with his decision.

"I left him out as we were trying to build," he admitted. "It backfires and I look a fool. It’s the chalice of being a manager, you get it right and you’re a genius, and when you get it wrong you are an absolute imbecile.

"We know that is the tightrope that we walk."

The nature of the match saw Rovers carve a number of goal scoring opportunities with the luck of the match falling in the favour of the opponents.

An early missed opportunity from Luke McCormick set the tone for the day with Lincoln rushing into a two-goal lead after his miss from six yards.

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Aaron Collins' goal looked for a brief moment to have sparked a comeback and they did dominate for a large chunk after pulling one back but were undone by themselves. It included Antony Evans hitting the post with a well-hit free-kick, whilst Loft had a number of opportunities to score.

An attempted ball over the top cannoned off of the back of McCormick and gave Diamond a free run at goal which took the sting out of any possible comeback.

"If I’m honest you can’t expect a solid defensive platform," he admitted. "We thought we turned it into an attacking game. We backed the front side of our team and we need a bit of luck as well."

"You look at the first goal for them it deflects off of Hooley right to their boy. Second one is a pen, I’m baffled that it is a pen. I thought it was very soft. Third one, Harry kicks in to somebody in the middle of the pitch and puts their lad in for a one-on-one. Fourth goal was a foul on Luke McCormick, fifth goal is a deflection and sixth goal is a deflection."

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