Joey Barton sends out stark warning to League Two as Bristol Rovers well equipped for end-of-season run-in

‘Nobody will be in better shape than us’. (Image: Cory Pickford)‘Nobody will be in better shape than us’. (Image: Cory Pickford)
‘Nobody will be in better shape than us’. (Image: Cory Pickford)
Top-scorer Aaron Collins and Elliot Anderson put Bristol Rovers on the brink of the play-offs in a routine win over Harrogate

Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has sent a warning to the rest of League Two after his side comfortably beat Harrogate Town.

A brace from Aaron Collins, as well as a superb individual strike from Elliot Anderson, gave the Gas another home win as well as a clean sheet, making them one of the leagues in-form teams.

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With ten matches left of the season, evenly split between five home matches and five away, Barton’s men have positioned themselves well in the promotion picture.

Had Ben Garner’s Swindon Town not scored a 97th minute winner against Oldham, then fans would be celebrating a move into the play-offs for the first time this season. Instead they will have to maintain their good run and wait for a slip-up from the clubs above them.

Despite not reaching exactly where they want to be, the Rovers boss said he wouldn’t want to swap their position with anybody.

Barton said: “We’ve got to be good at home as we have been in recent months. I wouldn’t swap with anybody and that includes anyone.

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“I think our lads are well versed and ready to go. Nobody will be in better shape than us in the last period.

“At the best they could be as good as us, nobody will be better than us. We’ve got a better squad and the depth of the squad is as good as anybody.”

Rovers’ tenth win in 16 matches has lifted them from 16th into eighth but the table is increasingly tight with automatic promotion still a possibility.

Ahead of Tuesday’s match with Colchester United, there are only two points that separate them and Newport County, who only narrowly beat them at Rodney Parade last week.

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Barton’s main objective is to avoid the lottery of the play-offs and finish in the top three, a position that he has eyed up even during difficult periods of his tenure.

“It’s gonna be tough to stop us,” he said.

“We might get promoted and if it’s the play-offs at Wembley, we’ll sell 40,000 tickets, there are not many teams in the division that can do that.

“We don’t want to do that as I fancy seeing my missus and kids a lot earlier. We’ve got a lot of hard work in front of us, we’ve jockeyed into the position and now we capitalise in the next ten games

“On current form and current trajectory, you’d be a fool to bet against us.”

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