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Joey Barton gives his verdict on win over Crawley Town and emerging ‘culture’ at Bristol Rovers


Joey Barton sees a “good culture” emerging at Bristol Rovers after the Gas picked up their second League Two win of the season against Crawley Town.

Debutant Leon Clarke was a half-time substitute and broke the deadlock at the Mem within 90 seconds of coming on.

The 36-year-old, formerly of Sheffield United and Wolves, signed as a free agent on Tuesday and opened in the blue and white quarters his account almost instantly, heading fellow debutant Antony Evans’ cross into the top corner for the winner.

In victory, the Gas continued to appear disjointed for periods – as they have done since the start of the campaign – and Crawley boss John Yems lamented his side’s profligacy in front of goal, but Barton sees no problem in grinding out results while his overhauled squad, with 17 new signings, settles in.

“I can see the team growing,” Barton told reporters at full time. “Maybe not as fast as we want it to, but I can see it growing and strong characters and a really good culture are starting to emerge.

“If we can keep a clean sheet, we know we only need one to win a game of football and usually teams that get promoted will have a large body of closely-fought 1-0 wins, where maybe they haven’t been at their best or fired on all cylinders, but somehow they’ve managed to get the job done.

“I was fortunate enough to play for Olympique Marseille. We finished second that year and we had 22 1-0 wins. With QPR, when we came up via the play-offs, I think we had 18 1-0 wins.

“They are the bedrock that you can build performances off. Obviously, we all want threes and fours, but we haven’t earned the right to do that, we haven’t got the confidence in the building.

“It’s all well and good me being confident and me saying we’ll get stuff done, but that has to come into the playing group.

“There is a nervousness in the stadium, and rightly so because of the journey they’ve been on as a Rovers supporter over the past few years. It’s probably aged everybody. It’s certainly put a few more grey hairs into my barnet than I had when I turned up here.

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“Winning games of football breeds confidence, and my belief is confidence comes from good preparation, so we’re moving in the right direction, but we’ve got to back this up next week in the league.”

Barton has frequently emphasised the importance of winning the physical battle in League Two, and after six games – and seven points on the board – the manager feels his players are coming to terms with the challenge at hand.

“In this league we’re going to have to work hard and there’s another 40 of them coming,” he said.

“We’re going to have to earn the right to win games of football. I think the lads should be well-versed now after six games that no one is going to give us any respect.

“It’s a much more physical game in League Two than it is in League One. We have to stand up to be counted and I thought the lads did that manfully today.”

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