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SAVED ME: Barton thinks late Rovers win prevented his sacking

SAVED ME: Barton thinks late Rovers win prevented his sacking

PA Simon Galloway

Joey Barton believes the late Bristol Rovers rally to claim a first away win in almost 10 months might have saved his job after they won 2-1 at Walsall.

Rovers’ winless away run looked set to be extended to 20 games since last December when Kieran Phillips steered Walsall ahead in the first half.

But two Pirates loanees, Stoke defender Connor Taylor and Crystal Palace forward Sion Spence, turned home corners in the final 11 minutes to send the travelling faithful into raptures.

Barton, whose Rovers side began the day 22nd in League Two, said: “The lads are fighting, they knew what was at stake and the pressure we all face.

“I was gutted when we were behind because I don’t want to lose my job but if you keep getting beat, inevitably that’s what comes down the track.

“But everyone is together, the lads were scrapping – for me, I think. They realise the kind of pressure you can be under if you don’t win games.

“Obviously we were aware of the club’s dismal away form and to get that winning feeling today was massive because I really felt we deserved it with the way we played.

“I thought we were brave and we had to climb off the canvas after conceding a goal against the run of play.

“Hopefully this is a springboard we can kickstart our campaign from. Even if we had lost today there was lots I could build on – whether I’d have got the opportunity to do that or not, I don’t know.”

Walsall boss Matthew Taylor was left to rue errors in both boxes as his side dropped to 22nd, the same position Rovers begun the day in.

Taylor pinpointed set-piece troubles but also bemoaned one-on-one misses from Phillips and George Miller when Walsall were a goal to the good.

He said: “You can’t concede from set-plays in the way we did. It’s unacceptable that we’ve conceded 13 goals this season and eight of them have been from set-plays.

“We spent two of the days last week working on set-plays. We need to make sure that we’re better for the next game because we’ve not been cut open by the opposition.

“What’s happened is that we’ve had players not doing their job at set-plays and it’s cost us three points. Quite obviously we need to practice more.

“At the time the ball goes in for the last goal we’ve got three centre-halves on the pitch and we don’t deal with it the way we should do. Obviously that’s not good enough and it’s costing us points.

“But what’s crazy when you look at the game today is that we’ve had three one-on-ones second half and the game is a completely different picture if we put those away.”

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