MANAGER Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was left delighted with both the performance and the return of Burton Albion’s fans following our 1-0 win away at Shrewsbury Town.
The opening day of the 2021/22 Sky Bet League One season brought a superb atmosphere as Shrews and Brewers fans watched their side in a full stadium for a competitive fixture for the first time since March 2020.
John Brayford’s first-half goal proved the difference between the two sides as Albion took a deserved lead into the break before holding on amidst a wave of pressure from the hosts throughout the second.
It was a pulsating encounter and a fantastic way to welcome supporters and the new season back - and Hasselbaink was understandably delighted with his side’s performance throughout.
“First of all it’s so nice to pay a competitive match with fans,” said Hasselbaink. “That is first and foremost, and so important - you feel the stress, the tension, and that’s what we love isn’t it?
“We had both sets of fans here - they (Shrewsbury’s fans) made a really good game of it, our fans made a really good game of it and I’m so happy for them to see three points on the board."
As Shrewsbury searched for a second-half equaliser, Albion were forced into defending and stood up well to the pressure.
The back four of skipper Brayford, Ryan Leak, Conor Shaughnessy and Tom Hamer had not played together prior to the trip to Montgomery Waters Meadow, but all four produced last-second blocks and challenges to ensure a clean sheet on the opening day.
“It was really hard-fought,” said Hasselbaink.
“I think in the first half we were tremendous and that forced them to make two changes at half-time.”
“They got a foothold but the unit at the back was magnificent and it was the first time they played together as well.
“They headed it, they blocked and I’m very happy with the performance for the first game of the season.”
Hasselbaink also confirmed that on-loan midfielder Jacob Maddox was withdrawn due to an injury in the first half but that it was too early to put an estimate on how long he may be out for.