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18 May 2014

Boss delighted with play-off semi victory

Burton Albion manager Gary Rowett heaped praise on his team after securing a place at Wembley.

The Brewers drew 2-2 away at Southend United on Saturday to win the tie 3-2 and send them to the League 2 play-off final on 26th May to take on Fleetwood Town.

Rowett spoke afterwards about the achievement, and has challenged the squad to go all the way and earn promotion.

“It’s a terrific achievement by everybody. The game was always going to be difficult and we knew after the first leg that a goal advantage was great but the tie wasn’t over by any means. They’ve packed the place out but we had our fans behind the goal banging the drum, shouting and helping the players.

“The lads have had to overcome a lot of obstacles with injuries and suspensions, and even our coach broke down before we left yesterday so you wonder whether it’s ever going to happen, but to get this far is a wonderful achievement,” Rowett said.

Albion fans would have been forgiven for having frayed nerves by the end of the game, but according to Rowett, winning the tie could be a boost to everyone at just the right time.

“It’s the perfect tonic for everyone. We’ve been a bit flat over the last couple of weeks and it’s difficult for the lads who aren’t involved. We had to use the adversity and I’ve used it a lot with the players, where we’re going to have to do it the hard way, but we’ve shown we can do it.

“I said to the players before the game that I had 100% belief in all of them, and that belief has been repaid. They were absolutely magnificent,” he said.

The tie looked comfortably in Albio’s hands once Marcus Holness’ bullet header gave the Brewers a 2-0 aggregate cushion, but the tie was level by half-time thanks to two quickfire Southend goals.

“The key was to stay in the game after going 2-1 down. We knew we’d have to make changes and the changes we made with Alex MacDonald and Billy Kee were planned.

“We shifted Chris Hussey and Callum McFadzean and the momentum began to swing. We got the goal from a set piece and it’s all a bed of roses in the end.

“I tried to re-focus the lads as I could see they were disappointed and down. We needed to stay in the game and we knew we could change it. The fact was it was level at that point, and if we were told before the tie that we’d be level at half-time in the second leg, we would have taken it,” said Rowett.

With the final just over a week away, the Brewers boss has encouraged everyone to enjoy the day, but wants to re-focus his side ahead of another huge game.

“It’s a day out for all the supporters, directors, the Chairman and the players’ families, which is brilliant. For us it’s not just an occasion where we’re happy to be there, we’ll be going there to win the game, but so will Fleetwood and it will be a great final.”

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