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Bristol Rovers have 11 cup finals to go said boss Joey Barton after his side defeated Crawley 2-1 at the People’s Pension Stadium. 

Goals from Harry Anderson and Aaron Collins maintained Rovers’ play-off hopes after a loss in the previous game, against fellow promotion chasers Newport, almost derailed the good momentum Rovers had accrued. 

Looking at the form guide over the last 10 games, Rovers are fourth in the table. If you look at the form guide over the last eight games, Rovers are second in the table. If you look at the form guide over the last six games, Rovers are first. 

Rovers are ninth in the league, two points off seventh and the play-offs, and three from third and automatic promotion. 

When asked about their play-off push Barton said: “We’re in the mix but we got a lot of work to do. 

“Again, Saturday-Tuesday [matches] coming up I think next week and then the schedule changes a little bit and other teams pick up a Saturday-Tuesday schedule. 

“So there’s going to be twists and turns as they say. We’re delighted to pick up three points, 11 cup finals to go and the most important is obviously Harrogate at the weekend.” 

Crawley manager John Yems believes that Rovers will go even further than just the play-offs: “They’ll get promoted, they’re one of the best sides we’ve played.” 

Despite not having the most prolific strikers in the league, what Rovers are is clinical, something Crawley are not. 

In Yems’ pre-game press conference, he was asked if some team is “going to take an absolute hiding from Crawley if you could put away your chances?” and you wonder if that could have been the case against Rovers. 

Crawley had 21 shots with six on target and one goal, compared to Rovers who had 12 shots, seven on-target and two goals. Clinical finishing seems to be Crawley’s Achilles Heel.  

Reflecting on the game, Crawley goal scorer Jake Hessenthaler said: “If you look on the chances we’ve created, we’ve definitely created as many or even more than they have, we just haven’t been able to take them tonight” 

And with Hessenthaler therein lies another problem Crawley have had this season, injuries.  

Three players made their returns tonight, Hessentahaler being one of them, but his introduction was a forced one as he replaced the newly injured Jordan Tunnicliffe after 29 minutes.  

When asked about Tunnicliffe’s injury Yems said: “It’s unbelievable, he’s just come back. 

“it’s just a mad, mad season, I think I just can’t wait for it to be finish and I suppose everyone else can’t. 

“You’re looking out there [on to the pitch] and thinking don’t another one go down” 

The proverbial what if questions of Crawley’s season will be asked. 

Sitting 13th in the table with 12 games left, they are 11 points off the play-off spaces, and 13 away from the relegation spots . They will believe in their league safety and can only dream of the playoffs. 

*Quotes taken from respective teams post-match YouTube videos

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February 2024