Bristol Rovers manager Joey Barton believes he’s currently experiencing his most “testing period” in football after Saturday’s 1-1 draw at League One relegation rivals Northampton.
Luke Leahy’s close-range goal on 19 minutes set Rovers on their way to three points and a victory that would have taken them out of the bottom four.
But Jack Baldwin dragged down Alex Jones late on and Sam Hoskins made no mistake from 12 yards to leave the spoils shared and keep Rovers firmly in the mire.
“It’s two points lost,” lamented Barton. “It was a scrappy affair but you’ve just got to manage conditions and you’ve got to play in the right part of the pitch.
“There wasn’t going to be much football played and it was going to be cagey because of the state of play for both teams but we started well, got ourselves in the ascendency and took the lead.
“We didn’t do enough in the back end of the second half so we challenged the players at half-time to go out and get the second goal because at some point the centre-forwards have to start scoring goals.
“Scoring a second goal would take pressure off the defensive unit and it would stop those mad moments that we are suffering with at the moment.
“I think this is the most testing period I’ve ever had in football – I don’t remember seeing so many errors in such a short space of time.
“I don’t intend to see it for much longer because it’s got to stop and it’s got to be eradicated. They’re good lads and good people but if you keep giving goals away, you give yourself a mountain to climb.”
Northampton are still 19th but have played more games than most of the teams below them.
“Before the game, I felt we had the quality to beat them,” said Cobblers boss Jon Brady. “But it was a scrappy affair and it was another fight with a team in and around us.
“It’s only the second time this season that the team has come back from 1-0 down and come away with a result so we’ve got to praise that character and that desire to get ourselves back into the game.
“I thought our subs made a real impact, which was really good, and I think the referee will be disappointed when he watches it back because we should have had another penalty – AJ (Alex Jones) gets dragged down.
“I’ve watched it back two or three times and I can’t believe it’s not been given, he blatantly grabs him on the shirt and pulls him down. When you’re fighting for your life, you need those things to go your way.”