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League Two

Gary Rowett sets Burton Albion challenge

22 February 2014

Gary Rowett challenged his Burton players to bounce back quickly from a rare away setback after admitting they could have been on the end of an even bigger defeat at Bristol Rovers.

Rowett offered no excuses after his promotion-seeking team had been sunk by second-half goals from David Clarkson and John-Joe O'Toole.

"I am very disappointed with our performance, but now it is how we react to it that counts," said Rowett after seeing his team lose an away league match for the first time since mid-November.

"We have been very proud of our away form, but now we have to start again. How we use our remaining games will define our season and we have to do better than we did here.

"Bristol Rovers are a good side with some big physical players. We spoke before the game about being tough in the conditions, but they were better than we were in handling them.

"We didn't create much and I have absolutely no complaints about the result. Now we need to make a fresh start and get ourselves going quickly again."

Clarkson headed home a right-wing cross from Michael Smith at the far post to break the deadlock after 70 minutes.

And nine minutes later O'Toole netted his 14th goal of the season from close range after Robert Lainton had parried Clarkson's volley.

Rovers were the better side throughout and it took a brilliant save from Lainton to keep out a curling Lee Brown shot for the hosts after 15 minutes.

Pirates boss John Ward was delighted with his team's display.

He said: "The lads put in a really good shift and showed the improvement we are making.

"We have taken on a top-six side and given a really good account of ourselves. I have a lot more options with the new signings we have made and some injuries clearing up.

"Selection for this game was a nice problem to have and we are looking a lot stronger as a squad. We are moving closer to mid-table, but we still need to improve our away form.

"We go to another top team in Scunthorpe United on Tuesday. Playing Friday night gives me the chance to go and watch them (on Saturday)."

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