Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Bristol Post
Bristol Post
Sam Frost

Every word Joey Barton said on Coburn, mixed feelings at Bolton and Bristol Rovers' next steps

Joey, sum up your feelings after that finish.

I’m gutted. We were a minute or so away from getting the job done. It’s a kick in the proverbials, but credit to Bolton, they had us under loads of pressure in the second half and we found it tough to get out of our half and clear our lines.

While we defended superbly in there, I still think we needed a bit more quality on the transition and if you sit back too deep and they keep putting the ball in your box, eventually they will land with a chance.

I’ve watched the goal back and I think there will be a couple of people disappointed with their part in it.

It’s one of those when you’ve been under pressure, teams get sucked into the six-yard box rather than taking the positions they should be.

It’s part of our learning. It’s a sucker punch for us, but we came here and we knew in the past couple of games, we were going to play sides who were top eight or top 10 in the division.

Coming to this stadium today off the back of the FA Cup defeat, we were probably not as confident as we could be, but we got off to a great start.

I’ll level with you, I don’t think we’ve played particularly well. We’ve had little spells in there, but we’re disappointed with our level of performance.

We’ve defended superbly at times and we were disciplined in that regard, but we can play so much more football. We were nowhere near the level of football team we can be today, and if you don’t operate at your highest performance levels when you come here, you can’t expect to win the game.

I’m disappointed, but another point gained. We’ll learn the lessons and move the club forward.

For the first 70 seconds, you must have been so pleased with the work of two or three players in the move for that goal?

It’s a fantastic goal and the big man gets in there. I think Josh was outstanding again today.

It was a really good team goal, it sets us off and gets the disappointment of last weekend out of the way and we’re off to a flyer.

It probably hindered us and it seems mad to say that, but I just felt we were hanging onto that. We just thought one was enough and we challenged the lads at half time to keep probing, but I thought we were well below par in lots of departments in the second half, certainly when it came to the quality on the ball.

We will be, and we must be better.

For all the pressure they put you under, there were probably two or three clear-cut chances out of that, which shows you how well you worked as a team.

And they were our mistakes. Beefy (James Connolly) slashes at one and puts them in one-on-one, and we got lucky there with Dion (Charles) going in, you’d fancy him, he’s a netter.

We’ll be disappointed with the goal. I think we could have… A great header in there from Beefy, but we should have responded better to that.

We’re a young group and we’re learning. We’re disappointed we haven’t taken three points here today, but if we want to be in the promotion shakeup and get out of this division, they are wins that you have got to hang on to and get the job done.

I’ll level with you, I think that’s where the January win is going to come in and play a big part for us because we need to have no dip in quality when people come onto the pitch. I think we lost a bit of a platform when we put Macca (Luke McCormick) on for the last part.

He’s gone on with instructions and he hasn’t given them out and that frustrates me. He’s saying he did say it, the others are saying he didn’t. He got a little bit confused and it is part of this young group’s learning.

You have got to, in the inferno, follow instructions, so we’re disappointed, but we’ll be back stronger next time out.

You did say the games against Peterborough and Bolton would be a big test. Four points out of the possible six. As frustrating as it is, it is another good step in the right direction.

Yeah, absolutely. In the past 10-game block, we’ve won four, drawn five and lost one and we work in those cycles.

The next 10-game block is going to establish what kind of team we are. Are we a team that is capable of catching the lads who are trying to get promoted or are we a team that is consolidating and looking over our shoulder?

For us, the first 10-game block wasn’t ideal, the second 10-game block has been much better. It would have been nice to convert five of those draws into wins and against Fleetwood and tonight, we were close to it, but again that is part of our team’s progression and in the next 10-game block we hope to be better.

Joey, you were really hurting them in transition in that first half. Why did it happen less in the second half?

I think we lost a bit of quality in the balls into them. I thought Josh and Azza grafted away manfully, but the service into them was sub-standard. I thought it was poor from the bottom eight in the team, nine including Belly, and we need to get better there and we’ll look at improving because every time we passed the ball in the game, we looked a real outfit, but then people panic.

Naturally, this stadium is big for some of our lads. You’ve got to remember this is the first rodeo for Beefy and Bobby Thomas, this is all new territory to them and this experience will no doubt help us in the future when the going gets tougher and as those young minds develop.

They were always going to throw the kitchen sink in those last 10 minutes. Do you think you could have shown a bit more poise on the counter?

I’ll go back and I’ll be disappointed because we go 5-4-1 at the end to shut up shop with Macca left midfield and Antony Evans right midfield just to try to stabilise because we were under sustained pressure.

Maybe we could have made more attacking substitutions, but I didn’t think the lads who were on the bench today would have given us the lift in performance that I was looking for, so I felt we’d do what we did against Peterborough and stick with the lads that chunked through it until people got really tired. They’ve scored a goal and we’re gutted.

I sense a bit of a lack of trust with some of your substitutes. They have probably not earned your trust with recent performances when they’ve had chances in cup games. Was it the case you didn’t feel like you had the players to bring on for a big moment?

No, I just think it’s tough as a player. We see the lads every day and they work hard and we do trust them.

As a player, if someone puts you on with 10-15 minutes to go, it takes 10-12 to get yourself in the game and because we were under sustained pressure, certainly in the last 20 minutes, by the time the lads get up to speed – I think Macca was affected by that – the game is over.

In the inferno when we’ve got our backs against the wall, sometimes I believe it is not the right thing to do. We made minimal changes today albeit we had to make a couple for legs and energy and yellow cards and stuff like that.

Antony Evans of Bristol Rovers. (Robbie Stephenson/JMP)

You challenged Antony Evans after the Boreham Wood game. That was a good response from him, with a great bit of quality for the goal and he was also dogged off the ball.

I thought he was excellent. I said to you in pre-season when we came back, Azza has been great and got all the plaudits, but Evo was right at that level.

He had a bit of COVID that set him back, long COVID, who knows what goes on with that disease? He lost a bit of confidence and a bit of rhythm.

I sat him down this week and said ‘You’re a brilliant player, we all know you’re a brilliant player, just commit to working hard and your performance will naturally flow from that. Stop trying too hard. We all love you and you’re a great player’.

He went out of the office and trained like a demon. You can’t train at one level and expect to play at another and last season, every day in training he scored a goal-of-the-month contender.

This year, he hasn’t quite reached those levels of performance and he’s got frustrated with himself, but tonight I felt he was back to his best. He’s simplified it, he’s committed to working hard and he’s going to back his talent.

We all know what a great player he is and players go through little spells.

Josh Coburn is going to be a helluva player, isn’t he? He is a grown man at 19.

He’s a top kid as well. He is desperate to learn and do well and you can see why we pursued him over the summer and we were patient and prepared to wait for him.

I think he is first-class and he and Azza are a real nuisance, a thorn in the opposition’s side. We just didn’t service them with enough quality tonight.

Josh Coburn of Bristol Rovers takes on George Johnston of Bolton Wanderers. (Robbie Stephenson/JMP)

A much more impressive 10-game block for your team. What are the next steps for your team? What are the things you need to do to get to the next level?

We’ve got to come here and win, we’ve got to come here and control the game and win. We’re a League Two side in League One side that finished ninth last season and they have improved again. They are fifth in the table justifiably.

We’ve closed the distance on them. In December last year, if you said to me we were going to be in this stadium conceding in the 94th minute gutted because we’ve taken a point, I think everyone in the quarters would have snapped your hands off for it.

So let’s not lose track of where we’ve come from, but we’ve got loads of improvement to do. These are the sides we’ve got to finish above if we want to get out of this division.

We’ll look back on it saying it’s a good point but we’ll be disappointed we haven’t ground out the three.

There were 775 Gasheads here. With Brazil on the telly, it’s another great effort, isn’t it?

It really is. You don’t know how much of a difference it makes, and we know how hard it is with the build-up to Christmas and the World Cup on the box, it’s easy not to come out on a cold December night but they are first-class.

I’m gutted for them that they couldn’t hold on and we couldn’t send them back with a festive three points.

Finally, Harry Anderson was here. Is that a suggestion that he is really close to returning?

He trained this morning so we wanted him with the group. Harry is such a good team man, a team personality that we wanted around the group with his positivity. He comes into contention now for Port Vale.

SIGN UP: To receive our free Rovers newsletter, bringing you the latest from the Mem


Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.