Joey Barton insists Fleetwood Town’s flare-up at Bristol Rovers is in the past

Ched Evans was set off after a clash with Tom Lockyer in December
Ched Evans was set off after a clash with Tom Lockyer in December

Joey Barton says there is no bad blood between Fleetwood Town and Bristol Rovers despite December’s red card at the Memorial Stadium.

Barton picked up the first red card of his managerial career as tempers flared after James Clarke’s late winner made it 2-1 to Rovers.

The Town boss was unhappy with the set-piece that led to the goal and with the earlier red card to Ched Evans for tangling with Tom Lockyer.

That red was overturned on appeal but Barton was later fined and slapped with a touchline ban as he was charged with misconduct for the language he used towards referee Brett Huxtable after Clarke netted.

Barton said: “They are a good, physical side.

“When we went down there it was a good contest for large parts of it until the sending off of Ched, albeit it was rescinded.

“It will hopefully be played in a similar vein; an honest, physical contest.

“They have had a great run of form since the new manager (Graham Coughlan) has gone in.

“They have managed to get away from the drop zone and get themselves into a relatively safe position with a few games to go.

“Huge credit to them for doing that. We know it will be a difficult game.”

With two games to go Rovers are not mathematically safe.

The 16th-placed side are four points above 21st-placed AFC Wimbledon and the drop zone with two games to go.

However, Barton warmed up for the game by denying he would be out for any sort of revenge after the events of the reverse fixture.

He said: “It is just football.

“I had a conversation with the coaching staff there who were interim at the time.

“They have done well and deserve the opportunity to run the club.

“I think they have done a fantastic job because it was not an easy position that they found the club in.

“Credit to them; in the second half of the season they have been near two points a game.

“That is play-off form, so credit to them.”