‘Something to build on’ Joey Barton’s Bristol Rovers assessment after late Exeter draw

Ryan Loft scored his fourth goal of the League One campaign as Bristol Rovers drew 2-2 with Exeter City at St James Park.

Joey Barton says Bristol Rovers’ 2-2 draw with Exeter City is something that they can ‘build on’ after ending a run of consecutive defeats.

The Gas had suffered three consecutive losses and were winless in eight before playing the Grecians, but they have now at least ended a streak of losses.

Ryan Loft rescued a point for Barton’s men after Jevani Brown’s penalty and Sam Nomble’s goal had cancelled out John Marquis’ opening goal.

Matt Taylor’s side came out on top in several departments of the statistics, but on reflection the match was in Rovers’ favour.

It left the Gas leaving Devon frustrated that they hadn’t come away with all three points in an improved performance from their recent outings.

“We’re disappointed that we’ve not taken all three because we felt our performance certainly for 89 minutes of it was worthy of that,” he said to BBC Radio Bristol.

“It’s something to build on, it’s a really tough place for us to come historically. Tough in my short period at the club, we’ve had two disastrous results here.

“I thought we showed a real level of maturity considering how many young players we had today.

“There are little bits we need to iron out and I know we will get to them. Belly has been arguably our most consistent player in my time here and he’s probably saved us 55 goals so we will let him off with that one today.

“For us, the character of our team responded to getting back in it and pushing for that equaliser I thought was evident. It gives us something now to build off.

“We played a little bit more of a simplistic game. We know Exeter are direct, every opportunity they get is pretty much they try to turn you.

“It’s a huge part of their arsenal and they’re very effective at it. We kind of took that away from them today in the way we played. In terms of the depth, we want to squeeze the pitch and condense it.

“Today we were a little more mindful of that ball coming on the back side of us. The difficulty for us was establishing territory, the longer the game went on we managed to do that.”

A key point of the match was when Antony Evans was adjudged to have fouled Jack Sparkes in the box after trying to defend in his own box.

It gave Exeter a route back in to the match as Brown dispatched his spot-kick to get the hosts back on level terms.

An error from goalkeeper James Belshaw then gave Exeter the lead as Brown’s cross caught him out and Sam Nombe headed home.

Exeter boasted more shots and had more possession, but their goals came against the run-of-play, having not created any meaningful opportunities.

Ryan Loft’s 92nd-minute header however was what Rovers deserved in what was an ‘exceptional’ performance from the former Scunthorpe United striker.

“We gradually got in to it scoring a really good goal we should have scored in the couple of attacks before that. We let them off the hook by giving away a very very soft penalty.”

“Antony is saying they were both at, we have to be a bit cuter about it around the box,” he said.

“It was a hammer blow for us. We had an absolute nightmare situation going 2-1 down and you’re always worried how the lads are going to respond in terms of the hammer blow of playing so well and finding yourself losing.

“They picked themselves up and I thought Sam Finley had done excellent to win the ball. A real captain’s performance. He played a lovely one-two with Sylvester Jasper and a delightful ball in, Lofty his performance today definitely warranted a goal, he was exceptional.”