‘We’re not going there to roll over’ - Scunthorpe United boss issues warning to Bristol Rovers
Scunthorpe United manager Keith Hill has put a tremendous amount of praise on Joey Barton and the job he has done at Bristol Rovers.
Hill will be in the opposition dugout at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday, as the Gas hope to claim automatic promotion with a win over the Irons the first part of what is needed.
The Irons are at the opposite end of the League Two table and are rock bottom of the division, 11 points adrift of 23rd placed Oldham Athletic, who will join them in the National League next year.
The former Barnsley and Bolton Wanderers manager is fully aware of the work that Barton has done since changing the club following their relegation from League One.
Hill, an experienced Football League boss has given his full appreciation to how the 39-year-old has overseen an overhaul of players and made his team successful in such a short space of time.
"Joey Barton sets his teams up brilliantly, but let’s not forget Bristol Rovers were relegated last season,” said Hill who was speaking in his pre-match press conference
“They’ve bounced back tremendously. He gutted the football club with respect to the playing squad, rebuilt in his own image and look how successful they’re being now.
"The media at some part of this season, and certainly at the end of last season, were writing Joey off, saying he wasn’t good enough, but look at what they’re doing. You’ve got to trust time in football.”
Since their status in the division Scunthorpe have begun planning for next season and have looked to their younger players to play out the remainder of the campaign.
That includes Owen Foster, a 17-year-old goalkeeper who made his debut against Hartlepool United last week, whilst 16-year-old Harvey Cribb, their youngest ever EFL player has been playing regularly.
Academy product Dan Gallimore is also expected to start after making 11 appearances this season, whilst Jack Moore-Billam is available.
Those young players could enter a cauldron of fire with much hinging on the outcome of the result for Rovers and what happens at Barrow in their match with promotion chasing Northampton Town.
Saturday’s match at the Mem is a sell out and will be backed by a strong Rovers contingent, whilst there are also 280 Scunthorpe fans making the trip in what is their last game before their relegation.
The Lincolnshire side have been written off by many of Rovers’ promotion rivals in an act of mind games but the Scunthorpe boss is hoping his side give a respectable account of themselves.
Hill said: "We’re going into another big away atmosphere. The crowd will be on top of the pitch, it’s a full house and they’re going for promotion, while we’re already relegated. “Everyone is saying this is a home run for Bristol, including managers of other sides going for promotion.
“We’ll be competitive, as no matter what opposition we face we have been courageous and shown commitment.
“We’re not going there to roll over and allow Bristol Rovers to celebrate on our behalf.
"We’re going there 100 percent focused on trying to upset what is a magnificent team.”