Joey Barton savored the moment of celebration as Bristol Rovers returned to winning ways with a resounding 3-0 win over Oxford United on Saturday.
Both teams were in terrible form before the game, but Rovers were far better, clinching victory amid a toxic atmosphere with home fans calling for manager Karl Robinson to be sacked.
While Oxford were unlucky, Rovers were ruthless and took the lead midway through the first half when a penalty won by Lamare Bogarde was coolly converted by Scott Sinclair. Sinclair then turned provider soon after and sent in a pinpoint cross for Aaron Collins to double the lead.
With the hosts fired up for the second half, Gas held their ground and expertly handled the game before standout Luca Hoole secured the points with a towering header with 15 minutes remaining.
Barton celebrated the victory, which lifted Rovers to 11th place before kick-off at 3pm, with the traveling 1437 fans, throwing some highly anticipated fists into the crisp Oxfordshire air to mark the end of a run of seven games without winning
“Well, you know I don’t really like to do that,” he said of his post-match victory ritual. “It’s against my personality to do that, but in the last few weeks I’ve realized how much I miss him and how important it is to have that connection with the fanbase.
“Sometimes when you’re on a losing streak, you never know when it will really come or if it will ever come back. For some managers, you have a losing streak and it’s hard to get rid of it.”
“I’m very happy for our players and fans, and our younger and newer players, to see how passionate our fans are. They showed up and took their assignment today and supported the team throughout the game and now they know what it’s like to win in a quartered jersey.
“Nothing you can give or buy them replaces that feeling, so it’s an important moment for us to look back up the table and most importantly a solid defensive performance and a clean sheet to go with all three goals. “.
Barton believes that Oxford, who were in worse form than Rovers before the game, were an ideal opponent due to their style and Gas made the most of it.
The coach says it will be an important milestone in the development of his young players as they look to start in the last 13 games of the season.
He said: “We always felt it was going to come, and obviously it’s tricky when you’re in the spell, we’re playing another good side because we had lost five or six and a lot of those were against teams in the last six that don’t really play. They start a lot and it’s quite difficult to deal with that.
“Historically, we’ve done better against teams that have a pattern of play and don’t play helmet football, and Oxford are one of those teams. They have the ability to develop off goal kicks and have a lot of attacking threats, and that suits our team.
“We have some big guys coming through the Mem in a couple of months and we also have some of the big boys to travel to, but strangely, we expect to play against the forward-thinking and aggressive attacking teams.” .
“With this young group in recent weeks, we’ve struggled a lot against teams that ask a lot of physical questions kicking the long ball and competing. We’ll be better for that baptism and the adversity we’ve been through, but we’re also looking up the table again because we’ve been able to keep a valuable clean sheet and score three goals on our travels”.
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