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Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Sam Frost

Bristol Rovers midfielder looks to moment of opportunity with belief and shares Kolo Toure tale

It was an imperfect performance and a frustrating conclusion, but Jordan Rossiter saw plenty to admire in Bristol Rovers' 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers on Friday night.

The midfielder believes the fact the Gas were able to grind out a result, coming within just a few minutes of of securing a famous win at a stadium that hosted Premier League football in the not-too-distant past, without performing anywhere near their best is a sign of their development.

Joey Barton's side made a perfect start with Josh Coburn rounding off a brilliant team move after 77 seconds to put Rovers in front, but for much of the night, their play in possession was lacking. In the second half, particularly, the Gas were on the back foot and could not play their way out of trouble.

Still, they were courageous and defended manfully, absorbing a huge amount of pressure without giving up a high volume of chances until Dion Charles struck a fine equaliser in the 94th minute at the University of Bolton.

Both Rossiter and his manager were honest in their assessment that the Gas did not deserve to win on the balance of play.

"Massively frustrated to concede quite late on in the game," the former Liverpool and Rangers midfielder said. "The lads defended the box absolutely superbly, but if I'm being honest a draw is a fair result.

"In the first half, we had some really good spells with the ball but in the second half we couldn't really get out and we didn't get ourselves up the pitch, which is frustrating. On that basis, I think a draw is a fair result.

"We didn't get the ball down and play, we didn't hit the right areas and Bolton had us camped in, so all in all, I think it's a good point and a fair point. We were nowhere near our standard in the second half and we know that.

"On the ball we were poor, but one thing I can say is the lads defended the box absolutely superbly with bodies on the line, winning headers, blocks and tackles, so in that respect we were fantastic."

Friday was a symbol of how far the Gas have come in a short space of time. A draw at Bolton is a respectable result for any team in League One, no matter how it comes.

Rovers were disappointed not only by the equaliser but their performance in possession, but Rossiter believes it is encouraging that they can get a result against a promotion-chasing side without playing particularly well.

"It's the sign of a good team," he said. "If you can't win, certainly don't lose the game and we didn't going to a tough place in Bolton.

"We're a top team, we know we can mix it with anyone in the league and we've shown that over the past few weeks. We really wanted a response after the FA Cup disappointment and the lads gave an unbelievable shift.

"We're frustrated because we know we can be so much better than we were in the second half."

That frustration will be short-lived if the Gas can grow their points tally over the festive period.

After a difficult run of fixtures in recent weeks, playing six teams in the top 11 since October, the Gas have a weaker schedule coming up in terms of the average league position of their opponents with ninth-placed Port Vale the highest-ranking team they are set to play between now and February.

After building a platform in recent weeks, Rossiter knows the opportunity that awaits Rovers over the festive period and beyond.

He said: "We've lost just two in 14, so it's a good basis to work off and we are coming into that Christmas period now where there are lots of points to be gained and we want to do it for the fans who come out in their numbers.

"They are fantastic and we want to repay them over the Christmas period and have a real push in the second half of the season.

"We go into that next 10-game block with some really good fixtures and a lot of points to be gained over the Christmas period. We've got games coming up where we can pick up points and if we keep up that momentum we've got, we'll be alright this year."

Kolo Toure (back row, second from left) in action for Liverpool against Bordeaux with Jordan Rossiter (front row, third from left). (Romain Perrocheau/Getty Images)

Despite his tough-tackling style, Rossiter is a lovely chap. However, he was the butt of the jokes on Friday as a stop-off at Wigan Athletic's training base en route to Bolton jogged some memories for the former Liverpool prospect.

Former Reds defender Kolo Toure has been recently named Wigan manager, and Barton joked with reporters at Bolton later that day about Rossiter's time playing with the Ivorian on Merseyside.

It turns out Toure thought Rossiter's name was in fact 'Jason', and the 25-year-old current teammates needed little excuse to crack a few jokes at his expense. Despite the new Latics boss not being present, Barton and his players cheekily shouted 'Jason' at him throughout the session.

"He called me Jason for 18 months," Rossiter said with a grin. "It's absolutely crazy and we were having a laugh about it, but it's all fun and he's another great fella.

"I was young at the time but I did correct him, but he was having none of it and that's just him as a person."

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