Joey Barton reveals the role Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp played in Bristol Rovers’ win over Crawley
The Liverpool manager, who was managing in the Champions League on Tuesday, played a small role in Rovers’ 2-1 win at Crawley
Goals from Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins in either half put the Gas back in the play-off mix as they issued the right response to the defeat at Newport on Saturday.
Barton’s men are now back in the play-off mix after winning their game in hand, sitting just two points off of seventh-placed Tranmere Rovers.
A small part of the win can be attributed to iverpool boss Klopp, who’s notes about fixture congestion and so were factored into Barton’s pre-match talk to his players.
With their fixture list and level of standards also applicable to the predicament Barton’s side have been in.
For the past five weeks, as well as the next seven days, Rovers have been playing twice a week, clearing a fixture backlog after a raft of postponements over Christmas.
Despite the gruelling period, they have only lost on two occasions and have garnered some important results.
“It’s not been straightforward, this week I read Jurgen Klopp’s programme notes from Liverpool’s game against West Ham to the players,” revealed Barton to BBC Radio Bristol in his post-match press conference.
“I spoke about the things that they’re talking about like the Champions League and then a Cup final and if you draw a game at their level it’s a bad result.
“That is the expectation as the stakes get higher. I think it brings the best out in players. There were some really good footballing moments today on par with some of the stuff in the first period at Leyton Orient.
“There was some really good football and all we were lacking was an end product in the final bit. If we kept it at 2-0 a bit longer, they would have gambled and chased the game, we probably could have made it easier for ourselves.”
Rovers’ looked good value for their two goal lead after enduring some early scares but for the second game in a row, failed to keep a clean sheet.
It was unlike them as for the past few weeks, they’ve shut out a number of sides including promotion chasing Exeter City and Mansfield Town.
Paul Coutts directed the ball into his own net after Jake Hessenthaler had headed at goal from Jake Powell’s corner kick. Nick Anderton was off the field at the time receiving treatment which left them a man light to defend a threatening set-piece.
Corner’s proved a thorn in Rovers’ side and they had to deal with plenty of them in the second half, conceding came as a frustration, but there was praise once more for James Belshaw.
Barton said: “If you’re going to be successful you’re going to need everyone to step up when required. Certainly in the second half of the season we’ve had match winners all over the park.
“Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins will get the plaudits tonight for the goals that they get but there were a lot of good moments there from our defenders.
“There were some good defensive moments. When the goal was penetrated with what in my opinion I believe we have the best goalkeeper in the league in Belly (Belshaw), he came through for us again.
“I’m disappointed to concede a goal from a corner but there were circumstances that one of our key defenders was off the pitch getting treatment.
“We had to hold on and do things properly. We should have put the game beyond them with a couple of chances we’ve had.”
The win didn’t change their league position as they remained ninth but at least kept them in what is a tight playoff picture.
Exeter City shot into the automatics after beating eight-placed Swindon Town, who are ahead of Rovers by a point. Rovers are only three points off of the Grecians, who hold the final automatic spot, though they have two games in hand.
With less than a quarter of the season now remaining, Barton has likened his remaining fixtures as cup finals as he hopes to lead Rovers back to the third tier at the first time of asking.
He said: “We’re in the mix. We’ve got a bit to do with a Saturday-Tuesday coming up next week and then the schedule changes a bit.
“Another team picks up a Saturday-Tuesday schedule so there’s going to be twists and turns.
“Eleven cup finals to go and the most important is Harrogate at the weekend. We’ve got to turn up and be at our best on Saturday.”