Brew­ers at least start­ing to set­tle

Burton Mail - - Sport - By JOSHUA MUR­RAY joshua.mur­ray@reach­ @JoshuaMur­rayBM

BUR­TON Al­bion en­dured a lessthan-en­cour­ag­ing open­ing month to their League One re­turn.

But there has been a sense in the past fort­night of things lev­el­ling out and the Brew­ers be­gin­ning to get up to speed as they look to stage a bid for pro­mo­tion straight back to the heights of the Cham­pi­onship.

Things have not set­tled down just yet.

The in­jury woes of pre-sea­son and the early stages of the cam­paign are still lin­ger­ing, with sev­eral se­nior de­fend­ers still bat­tling back and Al­bion’s two first-choice goal­keep­ers now both on the side­lines.

As Nigel Clough put it in his preSun­der­land press con­fer­ence: “We’re cer­tainly not there and the fin­ished ar­ti­cle yet and will not be un­til we get everybody avail­able.”

More and more mem­bers of the squad, though, are ap­proach­ing the lev­els of fit­ness and form they would have liked to have hit af­ter pre-sea­son. Cru­cially, Bur­ton have more op­tions, too.

Since the de­flat­ing 3-1 de­feat at Ox­ford United on Au­gust 25, Al­bion have steadily built some mo­men­tum.

The Carabao Cup tri­umph over As­ton

Villa could yet prove to be a spring­board.

The ad­di­tion of four loan sign­ings in the three days af­ter, plus the fact that Liam Boyce re­mained a Bur­ton player af­ter in­ter­est from else­where, added to the pos­i­tiv­ity.

Four points have been taken from their sub­se­quent two League matches.

That might have been six had they held on to a one-goal lead at Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley but the Brew­ers’ sys­tem of play looks more fluid and ef­fec­tive with each pass­ing match and player com­bi­na­tions are be­gin­ning to build across the field.

Those com­bi­na­tions – and much more – will be tested over the next two week­ends. Al­bion host Sun­der­land at the Pirelli Sta­dium to­day, be­fore trav­el­ling to Barns­ley seven days later.

It pro­vides a chance for Bur­ton to test them­selves against the two sides rel­e­gated along­side them from the Cham­pi­onship in May, both of whom have en­joyed im­pres­sive, unbeaten starts to the new cam­paign.

They will be a cou­ple of tough as­sign­ments for Clough’s side, es­pe­cially with in­juries hit­ting their goal­keep­ing depart­ment.

But seven games into the sea­son and fol­low­ing the promis­ing dis­plays against AFC Wim­ble­don and Ac­cring­ton, there is an op­por­tu­nity for Al­bion to show that they are set­tling into con­sis­tency and can soon be­gin to hit their strides.

Sun­der­land and Barns­ley were among most peo­ples’ favourites for pro­mo­tion this sea­son and while the Brew­ers have taken time to read­just, that duo have shown few signs of a rel­e­ga­tion hang­over.

A cou­ple of pos­i­tive re­sults against the Black Cats and the Tykes would be a fit­ting way for Bur­ton to show they are get­ting closer to where they want to be.

Clough has also pre­vi­ously spo­ken about how his side will “be play­ing a lit­tle bit of catch-up” af­ter the in­jury and se­lec­tion dis­rup­tions of July and Au­gust.

In terms of their next two op­po­nents, that is cer­tainly the case. They are eight points adrift of Sun­der­land and Barns­ley ahead of this week­end’s fix­tures. The Black Cats have won four of their open­ing seven out­ings de­spite hav­ing a few in­jury prob­lems of their own, al­though their squad is ad­mit­tedly deeper than Bur­ton’s.

Keep­ing pace with Jack Ross and Daniel Sten­del’s teams may yet prove too tough a task for the ma­jor­ity of the League, in­clud­ing Al­bion.

But if the Brew­ers are set­tling into an ef­fec­tive rhythm and play­ing in the man­ner that Clough wants, the next eight days would be a per­fect time to prove what that could mean for their sea­son.

The Brew­ers’ sys­tem of play looks more fluid and ef­fec­tive with each pass­ing week. Joshua Mur­ray

Stephen Quinn shoots to open the scor­ing against AFC Wim­ble­don in the Brew­ers’ last home game.

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