Burton Albion manager Gary Rowett tell players 'no pressure' in League Two promotion chase
GARY Rowett insists there is no reason for his Burton Albion players to feel pressured as the promotion-chasing battles keep on coming for the buoyant Brewers.
When Exeter City visit the Pirelli Stadium tomorrow, it will be Burton's third successive game against sides who were with them in the League Two play-off places at the kick-off.
So far, they have met those challenges perfectly, with a 2-0 home win over Rotherham United and a 4-0 away win at Fleetwood Town, which was probably their most complete performance of the season.
The game against the Grecians also offers a third successive chance to avenge a defeat earlier in the season.
Not only that, it is a game between the team with the best home record in the division and the one with the second-best away record.
But Rowett says his team need feel no pressure because they have already exceeded expectations this season.
"You're at that stage of the season – when you'll soon be down to single figures in terms of games left – where every game feels like a must-win if you still have something to play for," said Rowett.
"So, yes, that's pressured. But I have said all along that we have no expectation that we must finish third or we must finish in the play-offs.
"Not many people expected that at the start of the season.
"Tomorrow's is a game between two teams who are both going well.
"We are high on confidence playing at home and they are high on confidence playing away.
"But for us, just like in the Rotherham and Fleetwood games, we are going in with nothing to lose.
"What pleases me most is that we are getting the very best out of a very committed group of players and that's all I can ask."
While he expects his side to find the tools to combat Exeter, Rowett is full of admiration for the stable way the Devon club are run.
Manager Paul Tisdale has been at the helm since 2006, brought them out of the Conference, got them promoted to League One and has stayed in place after they were relegated back to League Two.
"Paul is an intelligent guy and they've had stability as a club," said Rowett.
"To get out of the Conference and then into League One was a fantastic achievement and they did it without spending vast amounts of money and jeopardising their long-term future, which is the same as the way we are run."
It is easy to wonder how Rowett could get his team to improve on the last two Burton performances.
"You simply have to keep on working on the same things," he said.
"You can't get sloppy and think it will be fine just because it was last time.
"Looking at Exeter and seeing how we might combat them has provided our focus this week.
"They get bodies behind the ball and they counter-attack well.
"If players like Jamie Cureton get space to make their runs, they can cause problems."
Rowett's defence is likely to pick itself, with Nathan Stanton and Aaron Webster still nursing injuries, while, up front, the manager has to decide whether or not to disturb the partnership of Billy Kee and on-loan striker Michael Symes, which has been so effective in the last two games.
Top scorer Calvin Zola returned from injury for 10 minutes against Fleetwood – scoring and providing an assist in that time.
But Rowett seems likely to conclude that the tall Congolese striker is not quite ready to start against Exeter, especially as he could be a big threat off the bench later in the game.