Joey Barton has shrugged off comments from former Bristol Rovers boss Ben Garner about the Gas’ “aggressive” approach against Swindon Town on Saturday.
After the Game, now Swindon boss Garner – who managed Rovers from 2019-20 – made clear his frustration at “repeated” fouling from Barton’s players in a 1-1 draw at the County Ground.
Garner believed referee Tom Nield – who brandished six yellow cards for Rovers players – could have done more to protect his players, with midfielder Jonny Williams in particular “targeted”.
The foul count for the game finished 13 apiece, with Ellis Iandolo receiving Swindon’s sole booking.
“Hopefully, the officials will look at themselves and say ‘How do we allow the game to flow more and allow teams that want to play football to be given the opportunity to do so’?,” Garner told the Swindon Advertiser.
“I’m not saying teams can’t press us or get after us, of course they can, but it’s just the repeated fouls and disruption of the game. That’s what I’d like to see taken out.”
Barton, however, had a different view of proceedings.
“I didn’t see that type of game,” he said in response to Garner’s comments. “I thought our players were treated a little unfairly by the referee.
“I thought it was a good, honest contest and they were as guilty of fouling as we were. Both teams were trying to win.
“I didn’t see that. I considered myself quite a physical player who played quite physical, and no disrespect to Ben but he didn’t actually play football.
“Maybe if you’ve never played football, the game on Saturday might feel a bit aggressive, but to people who have played the game and played the game at a good level, that was just a good game of football.”
Swindon dominated Rovers in a 3-1 win for the Robins at the Mem earlier in the season, but the Gas will argue they had the better of the return contest with Barton’s side knocking them out of their rhythm in a hard-fought game second time around.
Barton is “proud” of the way his players approached the game.
He added: “Disappointed to hear that, but I see that as a badge of honour. If our team are physical and putting it about for the shirt, that’s the minimum we can do.
“We’ve got a big away following going into a local derby against a team that’s above us in the table and beat us at home.
“I’m really proud that he said my players competed hard and I look forward, if we do manage to face them again a season, we can’t wait to get our hands on Swindon Town again.”