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Joey Barton not happy with Luke McCormick’s cameo in Bristol Rovers win

Joey Barton was not happy with one of his substitutes (Isaac Parkin/PA)
Joey Barton was not happy with one of his substitutes (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Bristol Rovers boss Joey Barton felt Luke McCormick was lucky to have not seen red before he was substituted just nine minutes after being brought on during their 3-1 win at local rivals Forest Green.

Rovers had responded to Charlie Savage’s early goal to lead 3-1, but McCormick – who was brought on in the 80th minute – was booked immediately and then gave away a penalty with five minutes left.

Goalkeeper James Belshaw saved Corey O’Keefe’s spot-kick, but Barton replaced McCormick soon after.

And Barton said: “It was a really competent professional performance for 80 minutes and then we made a couple of changes and then done a few mad things which put the team under pressure.

“The substitutes are meant to lift the performance and get the job done, but specifically Luke McCormick didn’t and was lucky to stay on the pitch.

“He got booked after two seconds of going on for a stupid tussle with someone in their box.

“Two minutes later he pulls someone down in the area and gives the pen away and he’s a fortunate boy to stay on the pitch. That’s disappointing for me.

“I don’t like taking players off who I’ve substituted on. I don’t like digging players out, but that could’ve made a hell of a difference in the last five or 10 minutes of the game.”

Victory for Rovers was their second in their last three games following a run that saw them pick up only one point in six outings.

Barton added: “We’ve got that winning feeling back and it’s the best feeling in football.”

Savage netted his first senior goal in the 12th minute to put Forest Green ahead and spark wild celebrations from his dad Robbie while he was working on BT Sport Score.

John Marquis levelled seven minutes later and Scott Sinclair put the Gas ahead with his sixth goal of the season in the 26th minute.

Marquis then dashed to meet Sinclair’s corner at the near post in the 61st minute and nod his seventh goal of the campaign.

Belshaw’s save from O’Keefe ended the visitors’ hopes of a comeback as their winless run stretched to 15 games.

Head coach Duncan Ferguson said: “The players gave 100 per cent effort, but I think they looked a bit nervous. Technically we weren’t as good as we’ve been, albeit for the first 20 minutes.

“I thought we started the game very well. Their goalkeeper made the first save of the game and we took our goal really well. Then we made a few mistakes.

“They got themselves a couple of goals and then we never got in their half and created too many chances.

“The second half was the same. A bit of huff and puff, but we never created too much in the second half either.”