Midfielder revels in massive Brewers victoryTom Naylor declared that the Burton Albion dressing room was 'buzzing' after their dramatic victory over fellow promotion contenders Southend United at the Pirelli Stadium on Wednesday evening. The Brewers overcame the adversity of having to make two injury enforced substitutions inside the first half an hour, conceding a stoppage time goal to Barry Corr and then seeing influential midfielder Robbie Weir harshly red carded for an aerial challenge with the big Irish striker to turn the game on it's head in the second half and grab all three points courtesy of goals from substitutes Matty Palmer and Nasser El Khayati.
"We are absolutely buzzing with the three points. There is no better way than winning like that." said Naylor who was named man of the match by match sponsors RAES.
"It was a massive game. They [Southend] said it was the biggest game of the season but every game is a massive one for us, not just this one. I like playing in the big games. I thought the first half was a bit scrappy and we couldnt really get into the game but once we did in the second half we dominated throughout and that is where it showed when we got those two goals.
Obviously we were on the back foot a bit in the first half. Its a great save from Jon from the penalty and that is what has kept us in the game really. I thought they got a bit lucky with the goal. The lad has had a shot and its just fell for the striker to just tap it in but we showed great character in the second half to get the three points."
Callum Reilly, on his full debut was an early casualty, having to be replaced by Palmer and Adam McGurk suffered a back spasm that meant he was replaced by El Khayati with less than thirty minutes on the clock and Naylor admitted that when you have worked in training on things, to have those plans disrupted so early is difficult but the quality of Albion's bench saw them through.
"It is hard." he said, "We have worked hard for the first two days of the week in training with doing our shape and things like that but we have got great players on the bench who can come in and fill in whatever position someone gets injured. All credit to the lads who came on and also the lads who played the full ninety."
In a difficult first half Naylor picked up a yellow card for a challenge on the lively David Worrall and with the physical nature of the game there were understandably doubts about whether the Derby loanee could manage to go the rest of the game without incurring a second card.
"It was a bit of a stupid challenge from me." Tom admitted, "I was under pressure but I thought I could win the ball and he has just toed it in front of me. I had to keep my head for the remainder of the game and make sure I didnt get that second booking and I am ready now to play again on Saturday."
Whilst Naylor saw out the ninety minutes his midfield partner Robbie Weir was less fortunate seeing a very harsh red card for a coming together with Corr but the indomitable spirit of the Brewers saw them through and Tom revealed that some inspiring words from skipper John Mousinho at half time had the desired effect on the side in the second period.
"It's easy playing with ten men isnt it?" joked Tom, "We showed great character. The skipper, Moose, did a great speech at half time and got us going. You could see that everyone in the second half was really up for it. A never say die attitude and that is what you need from your skipper. Him and Shane were excellent at centre half tonight but we are just over the moon with the three points because it really is massive."
Not only was Naylor a rock repelling Southend attacks but he also had a hand in both of the Burton goals, firstly spraying a superb ball out to the wing for Lucas Akins to set up Palmer and seeing a long range shot deflect into the path of El Khayati for the winner.
"I think it was a bit of a shank.......only joking!" beamed Tom, "I saw Lucas going and I picked him out. I thought it might be an assist for me for the second goal with the wayward shot but its a great finish from Nasser and like I've said its a massive three points."
The Pirelli Stadium witnessed one its greatest ever finishes when El Khayati put the ball into the back of the net although with the fourth official poised to show four added minutes on the board Albion knew they were not quite over the line as time seemed to stand still waiting for referee James Linington to blow the whistle.
"You cant really write those scripts. Its a brilliant feeling with the atmosphere the way it was. Those four minutes were like the longest four minutes of your life. We had to dig in and grind it out and that is exactly what we did. We have still got nine games left but I think that is a pivotal night for us. We still need to go for the three points in every game out there but we want to get promotion and the bonus of that is that we want to win the league and that is our aim."
The injuries to Reilly and McGurk stretched the Brewers squad on the night and manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's dealings in the loan market could prove pivotal as niggles bite into the squad's resources. Naylor himself has had to be patient for a chance since joining on loan from Derby County in January so knows what it is like waiting for a chance but his patience has been rewarded with a run in the side since Darragh Lenihan was recalled to parent club Blackburn Rovers and Tom is revelling in his current situation.
"We have a big squad at the minute and with one or two injuries everyone is going to have a big part to play. Everyone is needed for the next nine games."
"I was patient in my time on the bench, coming on here and there, but I know what my capabilities are and now I am out there I feel like a big part of the team and its nice to be a part of a side that is winning games and those three points."
The Rams man is out of contract at the Ipro in the summer and knows that this is the time for him to impress. Hasselbaink indicated when signing Naylor that this was an opportunity to nail down a longer term deal with the club and that is exactly what the Mansfield born player wants to do.
"This is a massive couple of months for me." Tom admitted, "I want to stay in the side for the next nine games and if I do I will see what happens in the summer. I think this could be the perfect club for me. I have been here, there and everywhere for the last couple of years. I am settled at home now. I have just bought a new house up where I live. Its just 35 minutes up the road for me and if there is a contract there for me then I am definitely going to sign it."
Although starting his career as a midfielder, Tom became known more as a defender under former Albion manager Nigel Clough at Derby but now he wants to re-establish himself as an all action midfielder, a role he seems be doing well in for the Brewers and a role he definitely prefers.
"I think I do prefer it at the minute. Now I am getting older I want to get established as a midfielder. I do like it at the back but I like to get on the ball as soon as I can, break play up, win a few headers"