Gills have set template for how Rowett wants his Burton side to play
GARY Rowett could only admire the way in which League Two leaders Gillingham dismantled his Burton Albion side as he tried to come to terms with a comprehensive 4-1 defeat.
"I thought they were a perfect example of how we would like to play and, maybe, in the coming months, we might get somewhere close," said Rowett.
"They're an excellent team, by far the best we've played this season.
"If I had to tip now, I would say that they will comfortably win the league. They gave us a lesson and it's really important that we learn from that lesson.
"I don't think they out-passed us but they were stronger and they all ran together. The movement, the pace and the willingness to run into areas to hurt people was a big factor.
"They ran in behind us with pace, which was dangerous and hard to defend against but we just didn't do our jobs properly and that made the game so hard.
"Whichever way you look at it, this division is about energy, athleticism, running and being strong as a group."
Rowett felt that his own team had resorted to playing as individuals when things were not going well – in stark contrast to Gillingham.
"They are very strong and very organised," he said.
"When we've been good this season, we've been good as a team and played the way we want to play as a team.
"When we've been poor, we've become a team of individuals trying to look good on their own – and it doesn't work like that.
"I look at Gillingham and, because of a team performance, you start talking about individuals, whereas, because of our team performance, you're talking about no-one.
"It was a poor performance but we just have to learn from it. We've been beaten by a team that's going to be up there so it's given us a benchmark – it's showed us where we need to be.
"We're a little bit short at the moment but that's the first defeat in nine games, so I'm not going to stand here and berate the team. We've been good over that period.
"The only way to advance is as a group and we need to do that.
"We're not saying we're going to be the best team in the league but we're trying to be ambitious and trying to get somewhere close."
Humour is never far away with Rowett, even in defeat, and a nightmare journey down to Kent the day before the game left him cursing his luck with tongue in cheek.
"The journey was eight hours, the rooms were all wrong in the hotel, when I did an interview earlier a black cat walked behind me and I spilt some hot tea on my arm before the game!" he said.
"So I wasn't too hopeful. I don't look for excuses but, no, our preparation wasn't all that we wanted it to be."