Joey Barton hails penalty hero Alex Cairns but isn't happy with Fleetwood draw at Bristol Rovers

Joey Barton was disappointed his Fleetwood Town side did not leave Bristol Rovers with three points, despite needing an 86th-minute penalty save from Alex Cairns to salvage a 0-0 draw.

Monday, 27th January 2020, 6:00 am
Alex Cairns saved a Bristol Rovers penalty to seal a point for Fleetwood
Alex Cairns saved a Bristol Rovers penalty to seal a point for Fleetwood

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Paddy Madden was also a whisker away from connecting with a teasing Wes Burns cross into the six-yard box.

Head coach Barton reflected: “After a late penalty save from our keeper you have to be pleased with the point... but we’re not.

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“We were much the better side for large parts of it. We’ve had the four best chances in open play.

“That final finish was all we were lacking today. I thought it was a superb team performance.

“There were many pleasing factors for me as a coach, and if we play like that more often than not we will convert and get maximum points.

“We’ve got work to do. It’s another draw but if we continue to play that way we’re going to be in a great position come the end of the season.

“All we need is that goal. If we’d score early today it becomes a very comfortable afternoon for us.”

Yet it could have been a whole lot worse for Fleetwood when Rovers were awarded a late penalty.

Andrew was adjudged to have tripped substitute Alex Rodman, a decision that baffled Barton.

“I don’t know what the officials have seen today,” he continued. “They have given a penalty which was a really poor decision in my opinion and then our goalkeeper comes up with a fantastic save to get us a point that we definitely deserved, if not more.

“I think we should have had at least one penalty, possibly two. One of our players ends up with his shirt pulled over his head, which in my book is a foul in the area,”

Luckily for the away side Cairns blocked Jonson Clarke-Harris’ spot- kick, which flew up on to the bar, and preserved his team’s clean sheet.

Barton added: “We said to our lads that the challenge was to keep that back door closed.

“I know we got a very harsh penalty decision given against us but I thought we defended superbly. There were some really good performances in that back line.

“I thought (Harry) Souttar was back to his best, Callum Connolly was outstanding. Lewie Coyle was what Lewie Coyle is, which is a superb player.

“And then Cairnsy behind that. He didn’t have much to do but everything he did he did superbly.”

Barton also handed a debut to Glenn Whelan, signed the previous day, and the former Stoke City, Aston Villa and most recently Hearts midfielder looked solid in the middle.

“For a debut with a new team I thought he showed the international experience and Premier League class that he has,” Barton said.

“His choice and weight of pass added a calmness and he was at the hub of our play.”