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League Two

Burton Albion manager Gary Rowett eyeing Accrington Stanley scalp

26 February 2014

Burton Albion boss Gary Rowett is targeting a home win over Accrington Stanley on Saturday as he sets his sights on automatic promotion.

Albion have won only one of their last eight League Two matches after a 1-1 draw at struggling Torquay on Tuesday night.

However, Rowett's team are still just three points shy of a top-three spot ahead of Stanley's visit to the Pirelli Stadium at the weekend.

"At the moment we are looking up into that top three and just seeing if we can catch people rather than worrying if we drop out of the play-off places," said Rowett, whose men are eight points clear of eighth-placed Plymouth.

"I still think we are in a great position. I still think we can be really positive. We have got a home game against Accrington on Saturday and we have got to go and win that game if we have got any ambition of achieving what we want to achieve this year.

"I have been saying this all this time. We have had 18 months of success and whether that success this season is top-three or play-offs we will just have to see, but we are trying to get the best out of the players.`

Left-back Damien McCrory fired Burton ahead after 33 minutes at Plainmoor with an unstoppable drive from just inside the box. McCrory pounced to rifle the ball home after Torquay failed to deal with right-back Phil Edwards' pacy cross.

The hosts took just seven minutes to level. Recalled midfielder Ben Harding - making his return following a five-month injury lay-off - crossed from the right and striker Elliot Benyon dived full length to send the ball into the far corner of the net and out of the reach of goalkeeper Rob Lainton.

Zeli Ismail came close to putting Albion back ahead with a rising drive that shaved the crossbar before home keeper Michael Poke saved well from forward Adam McGurk.

Harding sent a 71st-minute header just over the bar from Kevin Nicholson's corner and on a lightning counter attack Poke made a brilliant point-blank save to deny substitute Dominic Knowles from six yards out.

On the game itself, Rowett said: "We changed the system to try and freshen things up and it worked in spells. Having got the goal I felt that was going to be it almost. The way we play and defend, I thought it was game over.

"To concede the goal when and how we did was really disappointing. At that point I felt we just let ourselves down a little bit there. If you look at the rest of the game we have probably the two clearest chances."

Despite earning a point Torquay slumped to the bottom of the table. However, Gulls boss Chris Hargreaves had nothing but praise for his players.

He said: "I was pleased with the effort, the work rate and commitment. It was not the result that we wanted although we probably came within an inch of it at the end.

"But I was really pleased the players had the bravery to get on the ball and try and play at times. We did well against a very good Burton side who are involved in a different challenge to us.

"They are going for promotion and we are fighting relegation so all of their players wanted the ball and are confident. I was proud of the players, they played well.

"(Recalled central defender) Aaron Downes was excellent I was really pleased with him and Kevin Nicholson at left-back was fantastic. That's the best I have seen him play for a long time.

"It was a great goal for us. The games haven't gone how we wanted them but they do in the end and if you keep getting points, you win and you draw, other teams will then lose so you have got to keep yourselves in there.

"I know one thing, I am happier being seven points adrift having drawn than had we had lost because it's a hammer blow when you lose, the feeling is awful. It's no good. So I have told the lads in there 'well done, proud of your effort, get some rest, get some food down and be ready to go and beat Hartlepool'."


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