Mansfield Town used the ‘dark arts’ well to gain point says Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton believes his side were denied a stonewall penalty and that Mansfield Town's experienced players used the 'dark arts' of football well to leave the Memorial Ground with a point in Saturday's 0-0 draw.

Monday, 14th February 2022, 9:21 am
Joey Barton - frustrated by penalty decision against Stags.
Joey Barton - frustrated by penalty decision against Stags.

“You get a penalty there and you score to go 1-0 up – which we should’ve done because it’s a stonewaller – then the fans get behind you and you push on for a second and a third goal,” he said.

“Second half, the players really fed the terraces and the terraces responded, which created that wave of pressure.

“But you have to give Mansfield credit. They have players who know how to run the clock down, and in the first half, the amount of fouls they bought - kicked it, screamed and dived on the floor.

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“I said to our lads, and maybe that’s the reason we’ve got two 19-year-olds and two 20-year-olds, they are the dark arts that you have to learn.

“Using the referee, using someone overcommitting to a challenge to buy a foul and relieve the pressure.

“It’s part of our journey and we’ve got to learn to manage the game out when we’re under pressure like Mansfield did when they were under pressure because they were on the ropes.

“But their experience and wily old foxes in there knew how to buy a foul, knew how to slow it down, knew how to get 30 yards extra when they had a throw-in.

“Again, it’s all part of our learning. If we get pressure, we’ve got to keep that pressure on and turn that pressure into points, but I’m really pleased with the second half.

“I thought the response was good and if the official made the decision he had to make, we would have won the game.”

Barton and his players were left incensed when referee John Bushby waved away the huge shouts for a penalty.

Aaron Collins went down inside the box and to make matters worse he was controversially booked for diving.

“It’s a stonewall penalty. We’ve watched officials Tuesday night miss a ball being three yards over the line for the opposition, so nothing that I see at this level surprises me any more,” said Barton.

“I think he’s the only man in the stadium who doesn’t think that’s a penalty. I think even every person involved with Mansfield knows that’s a penalty.

“I spoke to the referee and his explanation puzzled me. I’ve watched the replay back and what he thinks he’s seen, he hasn’t seen because what he described to me hasn’t happened.

“We’ve got to do more and take it away from the officials. We’ve got to keep pushing on and create more opportunities and take the game out of the officials’ hands. We’ve just got to be better.

“So, it's disappointing because it would have been a really good three points, three points I felt we deserved on the balance of play in the second half.

“I felt we were the side pushing on and really trying to win it. I know there were some moments but apart from that no real clear-cut moments.

“But in tight games against teams that are closely matched, you’re relying on, if there is a big call to be made, the ref has to get it right. If he’d have done that, we’d have won the game today.

“I’m disappointed, but it’s another point on the board and we have to dust ourselves down and go again Tuesday.

He added: “They’re a lot more experienced than us and they’ve got that winning formula from the run they’ve been on.

“I think they looked like the team who were really happy with a point here today. Obviously, it keeps them in the ascendency.

“We knew it was going to be tricky and to be fair they kept us scrapping and pushed back until half time. But we knew in the second half we’d improve and I thought right across the board the lads were superb.

“The conditions in the first half contributed to it being a game of two halves.”