Clough’s brew­ing a party week

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John Brind­ley

NIGEL CLOUGH pledged to cel­e­brate “long into the week” after his Brew­ers com­pleted their as­ton­ish­ing Cham­pi­onship sur­vival bat­tle with a char­ac­ter-filled point.

Sub­sti­tute Luke Var­ney nod­ded Bur­ton’s cru­cial equaliser sec­onds after be­ing sent on by Clough, whose side then saw out a Tykes on­slaught in typ­i­cally de­fi­ant style.

Ever mod­est, Clough care­fully de­flected away per­sonal praise but put Bur­ton’s suc­cess in per­spec­tive.

“Eigh­teen years ago we were av­er­ag­ing 400 at our home games – that was won­der­fully spe­cial for them out there,” he said.

“We are a team, a lit­tle fam­ily and all the play­ers have got what they de­served.

“Sur­vival is an even big­ger achieve­ment for us than get­ting into this league.

“It was nervy and scrappy to­day. We thought the oth­ers would win so we wanted that point to get the job done.

“Ev­ery­one has con­trib­uted. Stephen Bywater has sat on the bench for 42 or 43 games, then come in and made an out­stand­ing save.

“Now we can re­lax and en­joy our­selves in front of our own fans next Sun­day. Cel­e­brate into the night? We’ll be cel­e­brat­ing long into the week.”

Bur­ton’s fi­nal tri­umph epit­o­mised their re­mark­able sea­son. Clough’s yel­low brick wall de­fied all Barns­ley could throw at them in much the same way as they have with­stood the very best the Cham­pi­onship can of­fer week in week out.

Roared on by more than 1,200 trav­el­ling fans, Bur­ton looked the more likely to score in the first half with Michael Kightly chip­ping wide and Jack­son Irvine send­ing a header just over.

They were un­for­tu­nate to fall be­hind in the 38th minute after a rare er­ror by skip­per John Mous­inho. Ryan Kent and Josh Scowen paved the way for Ge­orge Mon­cur to send a stud­ied 12-yard fin­ish be­yond Stephen Bywater.

Bur­ton’s sec­ond-choice goal­keeper then earned high praise from his man­ager for a bril­liant re­ac­tion save from An­gus Mac­Don­ald’s over­head kick in the 50th minute.

Tom Flana­gan’s dead leg saw Clough send for Var­ney and within sec­onds he had glanced a header into the cor­ner of the net for his first Brew­ers goal in front of their ec­static away sup­port.

Barns­ley dom­i­nated the rest of a tense af­ter­noon in which scores from other grounds were ev­ery bit as rel­e­vant.

Bur­ton’s strong and phys­i­cal back line in­sured Bywater was never again se­ri­ously tested with Ben Turner once again prov­ing a man moun­tain. Four min­utes of in­jury time pro­longed the agony for Clough but when Tom Brad­shaw got the ball stuck be­tween his legs after find­ing un­usual space in the Bur­ton box, their sur­vival was rightly as­sured.

Barns­ley as­sis­tant man­ager Jamie Clapham added his con­grat­u­la­tions to Bur­ton, but also praised his side.

“It was al­ways go­ing to be a dif­fi­cult game for us. We knew Bur­ton needed a point and they came here with a game plan.

“We scored a ter­rific goal on one of the few oc­ca­sions when they were open and I’m dis­ap­pointed we then con­ceded at a set-piece.

“We’ve pretty well con­trolled the whole game and had lots of pos­ses­sion and ter­ri­tory with­out test­ing their goal­keeper enough.”

PICTURES: ProS­ports/Richard Holmes

ALL-SMILES: Bur­ton Al­bion striker Luke Var­ney cel­e­brates his pre­cious equaliser

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