Joey Barton reacts to Bristol Rovers’ sensational comeback win over Rochdale

The Gas kept up their chances of automatic promotion by battling from two goals down to win in stoppage time

Joey Barton says the impressive following from Bristol Rovers fans was the motivation in their 4-3 comeback win over Rochdale.

The Gas found themselves 3-1 down at Spotland after a poor start but a hat-trick from Aaron Collins and a goal from Sam Finley secured a vital three points.

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Rovers remain in fourth place and are now behind Northampton Town on goal difference, as they hope for defeats for Mansfield Town and Port Vale in their pursuit of an automatic spot.

Lost in the midst of all the drama, their place in the end-of-the-season play-offs was secured though with Sutton United and Salford City unable to catch them.

‘It’s just the character of the players as they kept going,” said Barton in the aftermath of the seven-goal thriller.

“It wasn’t our best day and we can certainly do things a lot better and we stayed in it.

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“I spoke to them at half-time about the following. It’s days like today from the first days of my coaching journey I couldn’t turn round and say you’ve got to do it for these fans.

“They’ve travelled in enormous numbers again.

“At half-time that is what we were talking about making the fans proud and giving a great account of ourselves.

“We felt our fan base would recognise that. To win 4-3 in the manner we have done sends looks about 3,000 Gasheads home saying they were there again.

“I’m so proud of our players who had amazing character. I’m so proud of our football club to travel in those numbers is special.”

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Rovers’ three-goal hero Collins hadn’t scored for the past eight matches but retained his place in the starting 11.

The 24-year-old who had already secured a career best goal return for a season found his shooting boots again though. For the first time in his senior career, he scored a hat-trick, which came at a vital time when his team needed him most.

Barton said: “I’ve absolutely gone after him at half-time for not being in the scoring area. I know he’s not your stereotypical number nine. We’ve been working all year about just being in the scoring area and things will drop to you.

“He’s scored three in that area but I’m not taking credit for his first ever hat-trick because he’s knocked the ball in the net. It does help me from a coaching perspective and that’s what I’ve been telling you that good stuff will happen.

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“Because he’s used to playing in the number ten and as a link player he’s still had 24-years of not being in there. As soon as he realises there’s 15-16 tap-ins a season in there he’ll start to make a lot more money than he currently is.”

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