Joey Barton pointed to Bristol Rovers’ fine defensive display as well as summer signing John Marquis after the forward scored the only goal in a 1-0 win against Oxford.
Rovers made it back-to-back victories in Sky Bet League One thanks to Marquis’ first goal for the West Country club.
A clever free-kick routine in the first half led to Aaron Collins touching on and Marquis heading in for the hosts.
Oxford were unable to create clear-cut chances thereafter, with the Pirates holding on for a first home league win of the campaign.
“It was a real disciplined team performance,” said Rovers boss Barton.
“They’re a good side and they’ll be thereabouts for the play-offs come the end of the season – and they’ll certainly cause lots of teams problems because they’ve got a lot of quality in the group.
“But after the initial skirmishes we settled and got our press correct. We limited them to a header that hit the bar from a corner that was deflected and a chance in the second half that was headed over. Apart from that I’m not sure that my goalkeeper has had much to do.”
Barton singled out Marquis for praise but also fellow forward Harvey Saunders, who worked tirelessly for his side’s cause.
“I’m pleased with the defensive aspect and for my number nine to get off the mark,” he said of Marquis.
“It’s always good to get that goal. I thought Harvey Saunders was outstanding today too. He didn’t get the goal that his performance deserved but he really set the tone for us.
“And the lads [substitutes] that came into the game maintained the level of the performance and showed a real team quality to get the job done.”
Oxford manager Karl Robinson, who is yet to beat a Barton side in a competitive fixture, was unhappy with his team’s defending for the crucial set-piece and their attacking play.
“We haven’t had enough shots from our front three. It’s a disappointing factor for us,” he said.
“We’ve performed in parts of our game and not been that bad but we’ve conceded from a set play that we spoke about. We were far too deep, our set-up was wrong and we got caught by a creative set play.
“That’s the infuriating thing for me. It’s one set play. It’s not a great shot from 30 yards.
“It’s away from home on a very slow, sticky pitch, and the water breaks slowed things down as we started to get a bit of momentum.
“I don’t think today at any stage we felt under pressure.”
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