BURTON HANG ON IN NERVY THRILLER
Rowett calms predictions
IF GARY Rowett had any concerns his Burton Albion side would suffer something of a post play-off hangover this season, then those doubts will surely have been erased at Highbury Stadium.
The Brewers were beaten over two legs by Bradford in the semi-finals after a fourth-placed finish last term, but have started the current campaign in fine form, with a win and a draw leaving them in sixth spot ahead of their trip to the Fylde Coast.
And their performance in the opening 45 minutes at Fleetwood – who themselves had made a 100 per cent start to the campaign – will have sent out an ominous warning to the rest of League Two.
Goals from Rene Howe, Adam McGurk and Chris Hussey saw Burton head into the half-time interval 3-0 up.
And though the hosts threatened a miraculous comeback thanks to second-half strikes from Jeff Hughes and Jamille Matt, Burton held on for an impressive away win – though Rowett insists he won’t be getting carried away just yet.
He said:“It’s been a very good start to the season. It would’ve been easy to start badly and a have a bit of a hangover from the play-offs but we’ve shown what we’re about.
“It doesn’t mean anything though, I’ve told the players that and I won’t be looking at where we are in the league table, it’s a start.
“It was two honest teams going head-to-head. It was probably too entertaining a game for my liking but we pulled through.
“We looked at their set-up from setpieces and we tried to exploit that and it worked. We’ll need to do that against sides at times.
“We showed so much character.We could’ve been 4-0 in front but we saw the game out and performed professionally.”
Remarkably, it was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides and Hughes should have made it 1-0 to Fleetwood on four minutes.
Ryan Crowther’s in-swinging cross from the right found the midfielder unmarked, eight yards out, but he could only head wide with the goal at his mercy.
Fleetwood were made to pay. Eight minutes later, McGurk headed a Hussey delivery back across goal and Howe was on hand to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
The goal gave the Brewers confidence and after McGurk struck the bar with a looping header, he turned a low Hussey corner-kick in at the near post to make it 2-0.
Rowett’s men were in cruise control and they were all but out of sight before half-time, as Hussey rounded off a perfect opening 45 minutes for the visitors with a thumping half-volley into the bottom right-hand corner from the edge of the box.
But the game wasn’t over there. Fleetwood emerged for the second half rejuvenated and Hughes finished well from substitute Gareth Evan’s cut back to give the home support hope, before Matt fired home from close range after good work down the right from Antoni Sarcevic.
The home side continued to press but weren’t able to find a killer late strike and Graham Alexander admitted a poor defensive display was their Achilles’ heel on the day.
“We gave away cheap goals though and put ourselves in that position,” he said. “The manner of the goals were poor and we’re not going to get too despondent.We didn’t get too high after the first two wins and we won’t get too low after this one.
“We conceded a goal and lost our focus and discipline and found ourselves 3-0 down. You have to keep focused no matter what happens.
“I’ve told people all along, winning a couple of games isn’t anything, we’ll get a kick in the wrong place. We won’t lose our focus. As long as we show enough fight, endeavour and the quality we’ll have, we’ll win more.”
GOING CLEAR: Burton’s Chris Hussey celebrates making it 3-0