BUR­TON HANG ON IN NERVY THRILLER

Rowett calms pre­dic­tions

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Alec Fenn

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

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