‘Stay in the house, watch Liverpool’ - Bristol Rovers boss laments Shrewsbury’s style after draw

The 39-year-old was back in the thick of it after celebrating the birth of his fourth child earlier this week
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Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton has admitted his frustration after being suckered in to Shrewsbury Town’s game plan.

The Gas were forced to settle for a point as they drew 1-1 with the Shrews in a match that was stop-start for long periods in the game.

Ryan Loft opened the scoring after coming off of the bench but after failing to clear a third successive corner, Shrewsbury equalised through Ryan Bowman.

Shrewsbury had mainly caused problems through set plays and were dangerous from long throw-ins but made for a frustrating afternoon at the Memorial Stadium.

A total of 13 minutes additional time was made in the first and second half with a number of Shrewsbury players requiring medical treatment from their physio before being okay to continue.

It was a game plan that ultimately paid off for the Salop as they left the West Country with a point, though they remain winless in four matches.

In his post-match press conference, Barton said: “It’s part of their strategy, Steve has been coaching for a long time but I’m not sure I would come out on a Saturday afternoon if that is what I was coaching.

“Stay in the house, watch Liverpool win 9-0 on the telly and watch a creative expression of the game. I don’t get it, especially in his 60s, is that all you have been taught in the game, is that it?

“We have to find solutions of breaking down and beating them, you don’t get any points for style, we ain’t free-flowing and Barcelona like we were last year at the moment. It is going to be tricky if teams come in and just camp in their half and don’t really show much ambition.

“I have to take it as a compliment that they were that fearful of us that if I was going to an established League One club to a newly promoted League Two club, I would be telling you I would be taking them on. It’s for Shrewsbury and Steve, it’s why they have probably six wins in 20 odd.”

After the game, Barton revealed a conversation he had with the Shrewsbury skipper Luke Leahy, who was making his return to the Mem.

Leahy, who had served the club for two seasons and was a player that Barton wanted to keep after their relegation to League Two, moved to the New Meadow outfit last summer.

His move to Shropshire brought a positional change as he went from playing as a left-back to being deployed as a central midfielder, playing alongside on-loan Bristol City man Taylor Moore.

Moore, a centre-back by trade, was also played in midfield, a position in which Barton had admitted that he didn’t see either players positions at.

He said: “You have to remember that players don’t want to be playing in it. You end up with players that are desperate and will sign for your club.

“I was speaking to Luke Leahy then, I said come back and play football. He’s a good footballer and he’s playing centre-mid. I’ve never seen him as a centre-mid, I didn’t see Taylor Moore playing as a centre-mid.

“Some of these League One managers are converting centre-halves and left-backs into centre midfielders. Maybe they know something that we don’t but we have to be smart and get some players in, we need to create more.”

Rovers had more possession in the match, boasting 56% possession which gave them 363 passes to Shrewsbury's 284, but it was the opposition that had more goal attempts.

The hosts had two shots on target from nine attempts with one being their goal, whilst Steve Cotterill's side had five shots on target from the 20 that they had attempted.

Despite the comments about Shrewsbury’s style, the Rovers boss did admit that his own side didn’t deliver their best performance but gave context to the draw.

The absence of James Gibbons, Josh Grant, as well as recent casualty James Connolly has left the Gas short with a desire still to manouvere in the transfer market.

Barton admitted: “I don’t think we were anywhere near our best. A great moment from Aaron Collins to make a finish for Lofty. I thought it was a good finish from Ryan and it gets us in the ascendancy.

“We are guilty of absorbing too much pressure and not clearing our lines. While there is always a chance of getting back in it, loading the box and playing no-risk football, they were chasing the game and we have to defend our box better, we didn’t do that.

“We are probably gutted that we haven’t taken maximum points, for me it is another point on the board, another point towards survival. I can’t expect the lads to fire on all cylinders at this moment because we are a number of bodies short.”

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