Joey Barton reveals Bristol Rovers dressing room dedicated win to Leon Clarke

Bristol Rovers claimed a 1-0 win over Salford City and the Gas players dedicated it to one of their strikers

Joey Barton spoke of the influence of Leon Clarke. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Joey Barton spoke of the influence of Leon Clarke. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Joey Barton spoke of the influence of Leon Clarke. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Joey Barton says that Bristol Rovers players dedicated their 1-0 win over Salford City to forward Leon Clarke, who suffered a set back on his road to recovery.

Clarke will be assessed moving forward and may miss out on Monday’s game against Port Vale, with the full-time whistle being too soon to make an assessment on whether he will play a part in the end of season running.

The 37-year-old had been named in the starting line up but was withdrawn after picking up an injury in the warm up and was replaced by Sam Nicholson.

Despite the late rejig to the side, the Gas still managed to keep their focus and claimed maximum points against a promotion rival, which widened the gap between themselves and Gary Bowyer’s side.

On-loan Newcastle United midfielder delivered another match winning goal as he scored with 15 minutes remaining at the Memorial Stadium.

“He just felt his hamstring in the warm up,” revealed Barton when asked what had happened to force him into making an amendment into his starting side.

“He is gutted in there as you can imagine. He has worked hard to get into contention with a few cameos. He gets himself into the starting 11 and suffers a setback.

“We spoke before the game about winning the game for Clarkey and he’s been a real good acquisition. He hasn’t played the minutes that we would want him to play obviously.

“As a man he has been superb in and around the dressing room. He’s been a real leader within the midst of the young group we have.

“We’re devastated for him, hopefully we can get a bit of good news. It’s early days but we have our fingers crossed for him.”

Rovers were well dominant in their victory and created 16 shots whilst only four of their shots were on target, they also dominated possession with 59% of play.

Salford were limited to a couple of half opportunities with former Bristol City striker Matt Smith their biggest threat, but his first-half header was the only save of note from James Belshaw.

Part of the game plan was to tire their left-back Ibou Touray, who last year was named in the Team of the Season in League Two, despite missing out on the play-offs.

Harry Anderson challenged the Gambian international before substitute Luke Thomas came on to provide the match-winning assist to Elliot Anderson.

“I felt we deserved that today,” Barton said. It was always going to be a tight game. Ourselves and Salford are the most improved from the first part of the season.

“When we have got some of the players who can open the door and it was obviously Elliot Anderson on this occasion, you always feel confident and you always feel like you have a chance.

“The group effort has been exceptional all year but particularly today the lads who came off of the bench. Luke Thomas has been working really hard to get himself back into contention. He plays a lovely ball to Elliot, he will get an assist for it but Billy needs to take a little more credit.

“Credit to Harry Anderson in the first period he kept pushing Touray back, he got him on a yellow card. We knew we could soften them up and that could give maybe a Harvey Saunders an opportunity to come on when there was fatigue as it was that is how it played out.”