Fleetwood test just the latest in a critical run of matches for Burton against their top rivals
ONE glance at the League Two table is all it takes to see what a critical run of fixtures Burton Albion are currently involved in.
The four teams in the play-off places today are the Brewers and three they are in the middle of a run of games against.
They beat Rotherham United 2-0 on Saturday, are away to Fleetwood Town tomorrow and home to Exeter City the following Saturday.
In each case, notwithstanding the tightness of the League table, Burton are seeking to overturn defeats from earlier in the season.
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Fleetwood, boasting the second-tightest defence in the division after leaders Port Vale, came to Burton in August and turned in an efficient away performance, soaking up all the Brewers had to throw at them and scoring the only goal of the game from a free kick two minutes into the second half.
They have strengthened since then – not least with Hull City's veteran midfielder Paul McKenna on loan – and manager Gary Rowett expects them to be a hard nut to crack.
"I went to watch them at Oxford on Tuesday (they won 2-1) and they were very solid and combative," said Rowett.
"They don't give a lot away and they have some experience in the team.
"McKenna is a terrific signing to have at this level.
"But we need to build on our last two away games, which have been much better. We're certainly going to need to win some away games because we can't expect to win every home game.
"Then again, if we're picking up draws on the road, it's an improvement on the spell earlier in the season when we were losing our away games.
"We're in another tough little run but we won the first of those against a very tough and experienced Rotherham side, so we can take a lot of heart from that."
There has been an element of swings and roundabouts regarding Burton's injury situation this week.
Nathan Stanton and Aaron Webster are doubts after playing when less than 100% fit against Rotherham but Damian McCrory is fit to return at left-back, while Ian Sharps, unavailable against parent club Rotherham, can come back in at centre-half.
Striker Calvin Zola has also trained this week and could be involved at Fleetwood.
"If you'd asked at the start of the week, I'd have said I'd name the same team after the performance against Rotherham," said Rowett.
"Sometimes you have to reward a good performance even it wasn't necessarily your strongest team.
"But I won't be able to do it and that's often the way it works out."