The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By James Owens

NIGEL CLOUGH said in Jan­uary that Cham­pi­onship sur­vival would be a mir­a­cle for Bur­ton Al­bion, and the Brew­ers boss ad­mits that his side are “tan­ta­lis­ingly” close to achiev­ing it af­ter vic­tory over Leeds.

Two goals in two min­utes from Jan­uary sign­ing Marvin Sordell and Burnley loa­nee Michael Kightly helped the Brew­ers to their sec­ond win on the bounce, de­spite Kyle Bart­ley’s swift re­ply hand­ing the pro­mo­tion chas­ing vis­i­tors a life­line.

The Brew­ers now need a point from their fi­nal two games to guar­an­tee Cham­pi­onship sur­vival, but Clough is tak­ing noth­ing for granted.

“We won’t be cel­e­brat­ing or any­thing un­til we get that one point at Barnsley next week,” Clough stressed. “The mood in the dress­ing room is eu­phoric but also tinged with an el­e­ment of dis­ap­point­ment, be­cause we thought that if we won to­day, we might be math­e­mat­i­cally safe.

“It’s tan­ta­lis­ingly close to be just one point away from as­sur­ing safety.”

There had been lit­tle to choose be­tween the sides in a first half bereft of qual­ity, with the only in­ci­dent of note com­ing on ten min­utes when Chris Wood’s headed goal was dis­al­lowed af­ter a foul on Bur­ton keeper Stephen Bywater.

And there was lit­tle im­prove­ment af­ter the restart, with both teams strug­gling to cre­ate clear chances.

But the game be­gan to open up with the lat­ter stages ap­proach­ing, with Pon­tus Jans­son ris­ing high to meet a near-post cor­ner for Leeds 16 min­utes from time only to see his ef­fort go just wide.

And the con­test ex­ploded into life sec­onds later when Sordell spun just out­side the box and fired a low ef­fort past Robert Green into the bot­tom right-hand cor­ner.

Sordell was in­stru­men­tal as Bur­ton dou­bled their lead shortly af­ter, tee­ing up sub­sti­tute Kightly as the on-loan Burnley winger burst into the box to score his fourth goal in ten out­ings for the Brew­ers.

Leeds gave them­selves hope by re­spond­ing quickly, with Kyle Bart­ley pok­ing the ball home af­ter Chris Wood’s down­ward header back across goal.

But the Brew­ers showed re­solve to se­cure back-to-back wins for the first time in the Cham­pi­onship. “I was very pleased with our two goals,” Clough enthused. “The first is a lovely strike from Marvin Sordell. Once he gets turned he hits it with such power and ac­cu­racy, and it’s dif­fi­cult for the goal­keeper.

“And Michael gives us qual­ity Premier League qual­ity that we haven’t gen­er­ally got through­out the squad.”

De­feat for Leeds leaves them re­liant upon a slip-up from Ful­ham, whom they trail by three points in the bat­tle for the fi­nal play-off spot, and the re­sult was a bit­ter pill for boss Garry Monk to swal­low.

“It’s an ex­tremely un­fair re­sult on my play­ers,” he said.

“We were the most dan­ger­ous team, and the goal came right against the run of play. We just lost that com­po­sure for those few min­utes, and I think it was the shock of them ac­tu­ally scor­ing the goal when we had been the ones on the front foot, and they man­aged to get a sec­ond in that short pe­riod.”

“Pos­si­bly (nerves have crept in). A lot of this group have never been in this sit­u­a­tion be­fore, but what­ever hap­pens, it’s a learn­ing process for them, and the whole group will gain from this ex­pe­ri­ence.”

PIC­TURES: ProS­ports

STAY­ING UP: Bur­ton Al­bion’s Marvin Sordell cel­e­brates scor­ing the opener In­set: Leeds United de­fender Kyle Bart­ley pulls one goal back

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