BREW­ERS SOAR TO NEW HEIGHTS

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Stephen Thirkill

JIMMY Floyd Has­sel­baink hailed Bur­ton Al­bion’s win over Ox­ford United as their best per­for­mance since he took charge.

Pro­mo­tion-chas­ing Al­bion cruised to a dom­i­nant win with goals from man of the match Adam McGurk and Lu­cas Akins to ex­tend their un­beaten run to 12 matches.

“This is the best we have played,” said Has­sel­bank. “We were solid, had good dis­ci­pline and this was a very pro­fes­sional dis­play.

“Adam McGurk was ex­cel­lent for us, he held the ball up well and was a prob­lem for them.

“He fol­lowed through for his goal as any good striker does.

“We came out strong in the sec­ond half look­ing for the sec­ond goal, but it did not come.

“But we stayed pro­fes­sional and de­fended well.We de­fended well as a team, from the front and as a unit, and that is what you need in games like this.”

The win leaves the Brew­ers six points ahead of fourth-placed Lu­ton, while strug­gling Ox­ford sit just four points above the drop zone af­ter hav­ing won just once in their last eight matches.

Ox­ford boss Michael Ap­ple­ton said his play­ers must con­tinue to be­lieve in them­selves as the rel­e­ga­tion battle hots up.

“It was im­por­tant that we got the first goal to bring Bur­ton out,” he said.“Bur­ton scored with their first chance and that did not help us.

“It is a 15-game sea­son for us now and we have to keep our be­lief. I don’t know if it was a lack of con­fi­dence in the fi­nal third or not.

“We looked good when we took peo­ple on and got crosses in, but we did not cre­ate enough chances.

“We are not scor­ing enough and I hope that is prey­ing on the strik­ers’ minds as it is their job to score.”

McGurk headed Bur­ton ahead on 13 min­utes af­ter Ryan Clarke had par­ried Damien McCrory’s fierce ef­fort into his path.

The home side sur­vived a penalty shout soon af­ter when Danny Hyl­ton’s shot was blocked by Shane Cans­dell-Sher­riff’s arm at point- blank range.

Ox­ford should have lev­elled on 43 min­utes when Johnny Mullins found space in the box be­fore his ef­fort was blocked by Phil Ed­wards with the goal at his mercy.

Josh Ashby fired wide fol­low­ing a flow­ing move on 47 min­utes as the vis­i­tors came out fight­ing.

Hyl­ton then cleared Cans­dell-Sher­riff’s strike off his own line a minute later, be­fore Lu­cas Akins headed on to the roof of the net as Al­bion stepped up the pres­sure.

Ox­ford grew into the game and Hyl­ton, who has scored 14 goals this sea­son, fired an ef­fort nar­rowly wide af­ter Ke­mar Roofe picked him out on 75 min­utes.

Ashby then cracked a fierce free-kick against the cross­bar from 18 yards as the chances went beg­ging for United. Bur­ton fi­nally wrapped up the victory when Akins coolly fired home un­der Clarke af­ter Nasser El Khay­ati’s pre­cise through­ball on 89 min­utes.

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

FLY­ING HIGH: Bur­ton’s Adam McGurk leaps to head the opener

TAKE THE AC­CLAIM: Lu­cas Akins cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing Bur­ton’s clincher

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