Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton reflected on another poor Pirates display in the 2-0 defeat to MK Dons and admitted: “We deserve to be relegated.”
Barton was in no mood to console his players after Scott Fraser’s first-half strike and Will Grigg’s close-range finish on the hour left the Pirates in a position where only goal difference can keep them in League One.
To complete a grim night for Rovers, Luke Leahy had a stoppage-time penalty saved by Andy Fisher and other results condemned Barton’s men to rock bottom place in the table.
He said: “That is the end of this team. I will build a new and better one because over 43 games the current group of players have not been good enough.
“In the remaining matches, we will see how many of them want to help take this club forward.
“But for some of them the opportunity to play at our stadium with a crowd inside it may already have passed them by.
“They were lucky our fans weren’t here tonight because that first half performance when we were fighting for our lives was nowhere near what was required.
“The truth is we don’t deserve to stay in League One. I expect this to be the lowest point of my tenure at the club and I now need to see who wants to come on the journey ahead of us with me.
“We were six points from safety going into the game and it looked as though some of the players had given up.”
Dons boss Russell Martin was happy his team secured victory.
He said: “We knew it would be tough facing a team in Rovers’ position and we had to match their intensity,” he said.
“We did that brilliantly and I am just glad Andy saved that penalty at the end because he and the rest of the team deserved a clean sheet, having restricted Rovers to very few openings.
“The only negative is that we did not score more goals. But the first one came from a great move, which summed up how we played.
“What pleases me most is the way the players have grown over the course of the season.
“It is a different team now to the one that started the campaign, even though with a couple of exceptions, they are a young group.
“You can see how much they fight for each other and enjoy playing together. It’s too late for us to make the play-offs, but there is so much to be positive about going forward.”
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