Clough’s brewing a party week
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.”
ALL-SMILES: Burton Albion striker Luke Varney celebrates his precious equaliser