Rowett’s ‘mis­fits’ see off Southend to book Wem­b­ley show­down with Fleet­wood

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Dunlavy To com­ment on this match go to http://boards.footy­

BUR­TON boss Gary Rowett hailed “mis­fit” Adam McGurk af­ter the striker’s sec­ond goal of the tie sent the Brew­ers to Wem­b­ley.

Trail­ing 1-0 from the first leg, Southend looked dead and buried when Mar­cus Hol­ness headed the Brew­ers into an early lead.

But quick-fire strikes from Ryan Leonard and Anthony Straker pulled the hosts level be­fore McGurk tucked away a loose ball to seal a fi­nal berth against Fleet­wood.

McGurk, 25, came through the ranks at As­ton Villa but re­tired from foot­ball af­ter an in­jury-rav­aged cam­paign saw him re­leased in 2010.

Even af­ter re­build­ing his ca­reer with Hed­nes­ford and Tran­mere, the striker faced more heartache when he was put out to pas­ture by Rovers last sum­mer.

But Rowett took a chance and has been re­paid with 12 goals this sea­son – in­clud­ing one in both legs of the play-off semi.

“That’s what we’re about here,” said the for­mer Derby and Birm­ing­ham de­fender. “We’re a team of mis­fits who haven’t quite made it or haven’t quite done what ev­ery­one thought they would. What we try and give them is the plat­form to show off.

“I said to Gurks when he came into the club ‘Lis­ten, if you can achieve some­thing here and go sail­ing off into the sun­set, if you go and play in the Cham­pi­onship like Calvin Zola and Jac­ques Maghoma, I’ll be ab­so­lutely de­lighted’.

“We’re not a team who are go­ing to play in the Pre­mier League. We don’t mind be­ing a step­ping stone. As long as they show that drive and com­mit­ment when they’re here, I don’t care.

“I’m so pleased for Adam, but I’m pleased for all of them be­cause they’ve been ter­rific.”

Beaten by Brad­ford in the play-off semis last term, Rowett feared the omens were against his side again af­ter a wretched fort­night.

“We had about six or seven in­juries, lost Ian Sharps to a poor red card,” he added. “Yes­ter­day, the team bus even broke down be­fore we set off. I can’t be­gin to tell you what we’ve had to deal with. But some­times out of ad­ver­sity comes tri­umph and we all wanted to put right what hap­pened last year.”

Bur­ton’s af­ter­noon looked like it was go­ing to be far eas­ier when Mar­cus Hol­ness nod­ded in a cross from the ex­cel­lent Chris Hussey to make it 1-0.

Com­ing so early, the goal could eas­ily have flat­tened the at­mos­phere and knocked the fight from Southend’s play­ers.

In fact, it had the op­po­site ef­fect, gal­vanis­ing both into ac­tion. Barry Corr scuffed at a ten-yard ef­fort, then sent a header nar­rowly over the bar.

But from the re­sult­ing cor­ner, a loose ball was headed into the box and Shrimpers player of the year Ryan Leonard un­leashed a spec­tac­u­lar bi­cy­cle kick that gave Dean Ly­ness no hope.

Now roared on by a fullthroated Roots Hall, Southend went for the jugu­lar and as Bur­ton shriv­elled, Anthony Straker struck, steal­ing in at the back post to nod in a won­der­ful cross from Michael Tim­lin.

At that point it was one-way traf­fic, but while Leonard again went close just af­ter the break, Southend’s fire had clearly fiz­zled.

That was the cue for McGurk, the bright­est player in the box af­ter Hussey’s free-kick was blocked, to turn home from close range.

In fair­ness to the home side, their kitchen sink ef­fort was im­pres­sive, with keeper Daniel Bent­ley up for cor­ners as early as the 86th min­utes. But when Leonard fired wide in in­jury time, their golden chance had gone.

“I’m sad for the play­ers be­cause we’re a young group and they’ve been fan­tas­tic for me all sea­son,” said Shrimpers boss Phil Brown.

“I think we had five or six 20year-olds out there at the end of the game but they need to use this as a learn­ing curve now.

“Bur­ton went through this pain last sea­son when they lost in the semi-fi­nals but they’ve come back stronger from that dis­ap­point­ment to go one step fur­ther and that’s ex­actly what we need to do next year now.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SU­PER MACS: Alex MacDon­ald jumps on the back of Bur­ton hero Ryan McGurk, who scored the equaliser at Southend to clinch a 3-2 ag­gre­gate win

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages


RD Southe

nd KEY MO­MENT: Bur­ton’s Adam McGurk scores the goal that set­tled the tie. In­set: Mar­cus Hol­ness cel­e­brates his opener

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