Brew­ers need to find big fin­ishes

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

BUR­TON Al­bion have been rac­ing out of the blocks this sea­son.

Nigel Clough and his play­ers have reg­u­larly spo­ken be­fore games about aim­ing to seize the ini­tia­tive from kick-off, get­ting quickly on to the front foot and con­trol­ling the tempo from there.

At times, it has brought suc­cess. They raced into a two-goal lead by half-time in the win over Sun­der­land, while ar­guably their best 45-minute dis­play of the cam­paign came at the start of the loss to Southend United last week.

The fact they did not close the game out for vic­tory in that match, though, points to a re­cur­ring is­sue for Bur­ton.

Ahead of this week­end’s fix­tures, they are the only re­main­ing side in League One not to have scored in the fi­nal 10 min­utes of a League fix­ture this sea­son.

Their lat­est goal to date came on the open­ing week­end, when Liam Boyce fin­ished a close-range chance in the 71st minute (pic­tured) to rekin­dle some hope in the 2-1 loss to Rochdale.

It ul­ti­mately proved fu­tile.

The same can be said for the last-gasp goals of some of their ri­vals. Not ev­ery goal scored in the clos­ing stages of a game mat­ters.

Per­haps un­sur­pris­ingly, it is the teams cur­rently down at the bot­tom end of the ta­ble, with Bur­ton, whose late ef­forts seem to have come in vain.

Ox­ford United, Ply­mouth Ar­gyle, Brad­ford City and Bris­tol Rovers all have ex­am­ples of net­ting in the fi­nal 10 min­utes of de­feats, with their con­so­la­tions com­ing too late to af­fect the re­sult.

But, on many oc­ca­sions, those dra­matic goals as the clock ticks down can prove de­ci­sive, sal­vaging a share of the spoils or turn­ing a draw into vic­tory.

The Brew­ers were pun­ished by Billy Kee’s 84th-minute penalty in last month’s 1-1 draw away to Ac­cring­ton Stan­ley, while Lyn­den Gooch’s goal af­ter 96 min­utes earned Sun­der­land the win over Charl­ton Ath­letic in Au­gust and Wal­sall beat Bris­tol Rovers last week­end with a 94th-minute strike from Kieron Mor­ris.

Al­bion’s play­ers will be keen to start adding their name to the list of last-gasp goalscor­ers this sea­son.

But is Bur­ton’s lack of goals af­ter the hour mark an in­di­rect re­sult of their fast starts? Are they strug­gling to main­tain that in­ten­sity into the late stages?

They are cur­rently on a four-game win­less run in all com­pe­ti­tions and, in each of those matches, the Brew­ers have looked in con­trol in the early ex­changes, only to let their lev­els drop at some point later in the game.

“There’s the men­tal side where you start the game so well, as we did again on Satur­day (in the de­feat to Wy­combe Wan­der­ers), and you’re in to­tal con­trol for 20 min­utes or so,” said Clough.

“You have a cou­ple of chances or half-chances and you don’t score.

“But that’s where the men­tal strength comes in.

“They have to then say ‘we’re not giv­ing any­thing away this end and if we fin­ish 0-0, we fin­ish 0-0.’

“But go­ing into the last five min­utes of a game, we’re as likely as any­body to get a goal if we’re at 0-0. “When you’re chasing 2-1 and they’ve got 11 men be­hind the ball, it’s a bit more dif­fi­cult then.”

Al­bion need to be­gin show­ing con­sis­tency across matches and pro­duc­ing 90-minute per­for­mances if they are to start climb­ing the ta­ble.

With 12 goals af­ter 11 matches, that means tak­ing their chances when­ever they come along, whether in the first minute or the 91st.

PIC: EPIC AC­TION IM­AGERY

The penalty given away by Kyle Mc­Fadzean against Wy­come Wan­der­ers was an ex­am­ple of how Bur­ton Al­bion have been pun­ished for ev­ery mis­take this sea­son.

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