ITEN Match Preview: Burton (H)
Updated: Nov 8, 2019
Rovers will be hoping to avoid a fright when they return to League One action against Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion this weekend.
A waterlogged pitch forcing the postponement of the trip to Tranmere altered Darren Moore’s final destination last Saturday, coupled with the horror show of Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat to Manchester United’s U21s, mean it hasn’t been the best week. However, this series of unfortunate events masks the fact that Rovers are actually in pretty good form in the league boasting back-to-back wins against Bristol Rovers and Southend.
For different reasons, both those wins represented a big step forward for Moore’s developing side, with the manner of the 7-1 win at Roots Hall in particular leaving Sol Campbell’s side in need of an exorcist for their footballing demons. Bristol Rovers meanwhile were left wanting to get out of DN4 sharpish after being played off the park in our last home game.
Rovers conjuring good home form
It’s five wins in eight at the Keepmoat Stadium this season as Darren Moore’s positive tactical approach has paid dividends in front of home fans. Rovers are regularly shining with high-tempo attacking displays and the win over Bristol was the most complete performance yet. Burton though are another side that have the quality to cause problems the likes of which were last seen when Portsmouth came away with three points late on at the start of October.
28 days later, Moore will be hoping his side can avoid a repeat of the deadly counter-attack that undid the defence on that day. Niall Ennis got a good run-out in an unfamiliar two-pronged strike-force in midweek and looks set to start on Saturday despite Kwame Thomas having the sixth sense with which to score two close-range goals at Southend. The signs are that long-term absentees Matty Blair and Kazaiah Sterling will remain sidelined, with Blair’s witchery on the wing in particular an asset sorely missed.
Trick or treat equally likely from Burton
The Brewers’ form is a mixed bag, so it’s no surprise they sit in midtable currently, albeit only three points behind seventh-placed Rovers. Whilst Nigel Clough’s side have left some opponents feeling like they lost a fight with the demon barber of Fleet Street – such as when they dispatched Milton Keynes 3-0 on their own patch last month – they have also been left chasing dark shadows by the likes of Rotherham and Fleetwood.
In truth, the younger Clough’s team selections have also seen a lot of chopping and changing, with Lucas Akins playing positions as varied as centre forward and right back in recent games, whilst Kieran Wallace has lined up at left back, centre half and centre midfield in the last three outings. Burton may also be feeling a little sleepy, even hollow, after a tiring midweek encounter with Premier League high-flyers Leicester in the Carabao Cup.
If they can avoid looking like a corpse bride, then Albion will present another stern test for Rovers this weekend with an unpredictable line-up only heightening the difficulties faced by Moore and co. in preparing for the game.
Rovers have never beaten Burton in the EFL, although there have been only four meetings since the Brewers came into the league in 2009. Each clash has taken place in League One, with the first of those threatening to turn into a nightmare before Christmas for Burton in December of 2015 before former Rovers winger Mark Duffy slammed in a last-gasp equaliser in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
Goals from Andy Williams and Paul Keegan – a real collector’s item from the Irishman with a ripper of a free kick – as well as a brace for Calum Butcher had the game poised at 2-2 before Nathan Tyson’s penalty looked to have snatched victory for the visitors until Duffy’s late dagger to the heart of Darren Ferguson’s charges. Williams also missed a penalty with the scores at 1-1 in what proved to be a classic tie at the Pirelli Stadium.
The return fixture on the final day of that season ended 0-0 but saw Burton promoted to the Championship, with Rovers already condemned to the hell of relegation to League Two. Liam Boyce scored the only goal in a 1-0 win for the Brewers last August before another draw between the sides in our last meeting in January, Tyler Smith netting his only two Rovers goals on debut before defender John Brayford snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat for his second of another entertaining game.
Aside from a pair of Johnstone’s Paint Trophy wins under Paul Dickov, the last coming just a week before the axe fell on his time as Rovers boss, the omens have not been good for Doncaster in this fixture. You have to go back to 2003 for the last league win over Burton, when a Justin Jackson strike earned a cut-throat 1-0 win at Belle Vue, whilst Dave Penney was wise enough to also mastermind a 2-1 win over Nigel Clough at the old Eton Park ground earlier that season.
Happy Halloween, everyone!