Conceding so early against Leicester City meant it was tall order for underdogs, says Burton Albion's Gary Rowett
BURTON Albion manager Gary Rowett admitted that conceding an early goal gave his side a dilemma in the FA Cup third round tie against Leicester City.
Did they chase the game straightaway and risk conceding a lot of goals or continue to hope to catch the Foxes out on the counter-attack?
"We didn't have the greatest start in the world!" he said.
"To concede after three minutes, straightaway you know you have an absolute mountain to climb and then you have a problem.
"It's still only one goal, so you can't go stupidly forward and risk conceding two or three early on – we had to try to stay in the game. Then the second goal made it that much harder."
Burton's tactics had worked earlier in the season in the Capital One Cup, when they kept Leicester at bay before opening the scoring and going on to a memorable 4-2 win.
But Rowett also felt that win made their task harder this time, with the Foxes keen on revenge.
"We were set up just like the Capital One Cup but we needed to be very solid," he said.
"We needed to have a solid base and start the game well.
"We knew they would come at us hard early on. They're a terrific side and their home form this season has been sensational and it was important that we weathered whatever that early storm was and picked our opportunities on the counter.
"If there was a cup tie that was going to be the hardest one to win, I'd say ours was the one, just because we'd done it already. Could we hope to do it twice?
"I don't suppose many managers would admit this but, after three minutes, part of me was thinking 'please don't score seven or eight!'"
Rowett said his side's preparation was hampered by the fact that defenders Anthony O'Connor (hamstring) and captain Zander Diamond (illness) were unavailable, while he noted the strength of Leicester's selection.
"If you look at our preparation, we had four fit defenders in the whole club and to do that in this type of game, I thought we might struggle," he said.
"It was interesting seeing their team, actually, because I thought that was a little bit of respect given to us, that they knew we'd sit in there.
"They played the two big lads up front, knowing that they could go over the top and bypass us at times. They have more than one way of causing you a problem.
"Obviously, early on it worked when they scored with a diagonal ball over the top and a terrific finish.
"The two goals were poor to concede but, in the first 25 minutes, we had some decent opportunities to counter-attack.
"If we could have avoided those two early goals, we might have been in there to nick something.
"John McGrath had a half chance, Robbie Weir forced a great save from Kasper Schmeichel and there was a ball into the box for Calvin Zola."
The game faded away to a non-event in the second half, as Leicester appeared content with their lead and Burton could find no way back.
"The difficult thing with the second half was that we wanted to go and chase it but you look at Leicester's team and the armoury they've got; there's part of you thinking they'll go and get five or six if you go out too much," said Rowett.
"That's the problem you have. You're still at two, thinking 'if we can just nick one, it gives us a chance' but, whenever we went forward, they broke and looked like they would score again."