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Gary Rowett - AFC Wimbledon post match

3 February 2013

Brewers boss on Albion's battling 1-1 draw

Burton Albion ground out a second 1-1 draw on the road inside five days as they again had to come from behind, this time against strugglers AFC Wimbledon. Michael Symes netted on his debut but the talking point was the 75th minute sending off of skipper Zander Diamond which was missed by most people watching the game with referee Jeremy Simpson brandishing a straight red card as Albion prepared to take a corner kick. Diamond was adjudged to have used violent conduct against Wombles defender Pim Balkestein but Albion manager Gary Rowett was not entirely convinced by the correctness of the decision.

"I would have to see it again but I would be very surprised if Zander has head butted Balkestein" said Rowett,  "I felt as if he (Balkestein) went down slighty theatrically which the referee has reacted to straight away and if he has seen any sort of contact of all then he has reacted to that. It is very disappointing because I thought there was a lot of peoples arms around one another and if anything he (Zander Diamond) was trying to release himself but as I said, I would need to see it again. We are trying to get the footage off our analyst and then hopefully we can show the referee but if there is anything there then we will definitely appeal the red card."

The decision to reduce Albion to ten men left Rowett's men with the task of hanging on to what they had for the final quarter of an hour rather than pushing on for what would have been a fought win as AFC Wimbledon tried everything to get the vital win that would have lifted them off the foot of the League 2 table. Rowett continued:

It was just disappointing from my point of view that there were some strong challenges, particularly in the first half, with arms flailing about which we mentioned to the referee at half time and which we didnt think he dealt with. Then the first challenge that Alex MacDonald has made where he has tried to block a cross, hurting himself in the process and he has picked up a booking for it.

"The last fifteen minutes or so were set to be the key point of the game, it was just opening up a bit and we had down the hard defensive work in the game, done that really well and then we had to dig in. Anthony O'Connor really should have come off so we were almost down to nine and a half men by the end. Despite that we defended superbly. Earlier on in the season with eleven men on the pitch we were conceding twos and threes and today we defended really strongly and it was an excellent gritty performance."

Whilst it was an excellent debut for Leyton Orient loan signing Michael Symes who scored his fiftieth Football League goal in equalising in the 36th minute it was an equally frustrating debut for fellow loanee Alex MacDonald who picked up a yellow card and an injury in one first half incident and had to leave the field for treatment, unable to continue. Rowett also made a half time substitution in bringing on Billy Kee for Matt Paterson to reunite the former Accrington striker with his former team-mate Symes, with whom he forged a good partnership at the Crown Ground earlier in his career.

"Alex got a dead leg in making the challenge when he went to block the ball and got booked" Rowett explained, "His knee and leg is quite badly swollen so we will have to see how that settles down. The second substitution was more of a tactical one as I felt that once the game settled down Billy would be able to get on and have an impact on the game and it was just a case of making that change perhaps slightly earlier than I would have done normally."

MacDonald and Symes almost combined to give Albion the lead after just twenty five seconds with the latter's header coming back out off the underside of the crossbar to deny Albion what Rowett felt would have been a 'perfect start'.

"We know that Alex has got quality in that area and it was an excellent cross and it also showed what Symesy is all about. He can hold it up, he can play a bit and he can be the body in the box for us and it was an excellent bit of movement in the box to get away from the two centre halves and a great header where he was very unfortunate not to score before he actually found the net later on."

"For his goal he made it all on his own. He got the ball and had a bit of a tussle in the box and then he produced a great finish on his left foot. I think that showed that he will add to what we already have up front."

The Brewers boss was also disappointed with the goal that gave AFC Wimbledon the lead as their own loan signing, Gary Alexander, capitalised on a ball that bounced over both Zander Diamond and Ian Sharps before firing a low shot beyond Stuart Tomlinson.

Rowett admitted - "It was a poor goal for us to concede. You wouldnt expect Zander and Sharpsy to get in a muddle in the way that they did. It wasnt intentional so you take it on the chin and the great thing you take from it is that it is the second game on the road where we have gone behind and we could easily have lost our heads and gone on to lose but we have kept our heads and come back to get something out of the game which shows something about the character and spirit we have within this team."

If the Brewers are unable to get Diamond's red card rescinded then it could leave them with a selection headache ahead of the visit from Rotherham United next Saturday. With Ian Sharps unable to play against his parent club, Damien McCrory and Nathan Stanton both nursing knocks and Anthony O'Connor also picking up a knock towards the end of the game it means that Rowett will be leaving his team selection until later in the week for what promises to be an enthralling clash against fellow promotion contenders.

"We will have to have a look later on in the week" said Rowett, Ian Sharps wont be able to play against Rotherham under the terms on his loan but we have spoken about having a really strong squad and we will need it next week against Rotherham."

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