Preview of Southend v BurtonBurton Albion head to Roots Hall tomorrow looking to extend their current unbeaten League run but against a side who lost out in last season's play offs Brewers boss Gary Rowett knows what is required of his side to keep themselves in the upper echelons of the League 2 table. The Shrimpers have lost just once in their last eight outings, away to League leaders Gillingham, after a disappointing start to the campaign but the Brewers boss is determined that if the Brewers approach the game in the right way they will give themselves every chance of getting a result.
"It is always the same, particularly away from home" said Gary, "You have got to go and do the minimum pre-requisites of being really hard to beat and hard to play against before you can use your own qualities and that has been a key factor of our last two away games and that is why we have got two results (Rochdale and Torquay). We go down there on the back of a really good run but at the same time we appreciate that it is going to be another good test against a Southend side that are obviously very strong. If you look at them this season they have picked up and really kicked on of late. Its a journey down there but we will learn a lot more about the character of this squad after this game."
Gary also refused to be concerned about the last two games that have seen the Brewers take a 2-0 lead against both Bradford City in the Capital One Cup and Northampton Town in the League on Saturday before being pulled back on both occasions, the Albion boss looking more on the positive side of getting into the lead in the first place.
"I would take going down to Southend and being able to go 2-0 up even if they peg us back because we will have done very well to get ourselves 2-0 up in the first place. You don't get given a 2-0 lead, you have to work hard for it and at the end of the day you have no god given right to win games 2-0 either even if you are in that position at some point in the game. What has probably grated with us is that it has happened against very similar styles of play and they both got the same two goals out of us. We have worked on it a bit in training this morning (Monday) and it is a great opportunity now to see if we can combat that sort of final twenty minutes and if we can it will make us a better team as a result of it."
Recent trips to Roots Hall should also give Albion fans a boost ahead of the trip to Essex with a victory last season and a draw that ensured League 2 status the season before. Whilst acknowledging the facts of Albion's record at the home of the Shrimpers, Gary knows it counts for little ahead of the game.
"The last two seasons have shown that we are capable of going down there and getting a result. It doesn't automatically follow that we will get a result again tomorrow but if we play the way we did in the first half against Northampton or for portions of the game against Torquay then we will be a very difficult side to play against and we will gave sides plenty of problems but we have to go and do that every game and go and do the hard work of battling, putting our foot in and playing some good football. Then our players and their ability can come out but we know it is going to be an incredibly tough game."
Whilst Jimmy Phillips, Chris Palmer and John McGrath remain on the sidelines through injury there was better news over the weekend in terms of defender Nathan Stanton and leading scorer Calvin Zola. Stanton picked up an achilles injury during the game against Bradford but made a surprising return to the bench on Saturday after the Brewers had already brought in cover in the form of Wigan Athletic defender Rob Kiernan as Gary explained.
"We actually thought last week that Stanno was going to be out straight after the Bradford game so we went out and recruited accordingly. Stanno being Stanno though has worked hard and got to a stage where he cant be ruled out. I am sure that he was disappointed not to keep his place in the side but it wasnt like that and we really felt that at the time we needed that bit of cover in that position. It was great that he managed to come on for the last fifteen or twenty minutes and show what he is about. That is what we need, the competition. Sometimes I have seen it before that people are left out of the side and they are not that bothered about it but Stanno is always bothered. It hurts him and that is exactly the type of character we want at this club."
Zola meanwhile limped out of the action just before half time on Saturday leaving both management and supporters concerned about his fitness but Gary had better news on his striker.
"Calvin felt a lot better on Sunday. He has gone for a scan today to see if there is any damage and if so the extent of it. We are hopeful that it is more of an impact injury rather than anything more serious. The signs are that it may not be as serious as we think. It wasn't as if he did it from a sprint down the line, it was more the impact of the challenge he took. It is unlikely he will feature at Southend but if there is no hamstring damage then there is probably no reason why he cant return to training and if that goes okay he will have a chance of being involved at the weekend but at the moment we are taking a precautionary approach with him. This is why we have done what we have with Calvin because he has been feeling a little bit stiff and sore for a couple of weeks after coming back into the team for four or five games on the bounce. So hopefully it is not too serious this time."
With Zola out of the game at Southend it is more than likely that ex-Shrimpers striker Matt Paterson will get the chance to face his former side, who released him in the summer.
"I am sure Matt will be champing at the bit to face his old team" admitted Gary, "but all I will ask of him is that he carries on doing what he has been doing for us week in and week out. He knows he hasnt got to go and prove anything to anyone but I am sure he will want to go out and show to people that he probably deserved more of a chance down there than he got. That period of his career has gone now and all we can do is look to the future and keep working hard with him to see where that takes us."