Rowett says strikers hold key to improving Brewers' away form
GARY Rowett has called on his strikers to solve the problem of Burton Albion's faltering away form – and says he is confident that they will be up to the challenge.
The Brewers go in search of the answer again tonight when they meet Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium.
They are seeking to change a pattern which has seen their last eight matches result in four home wins – but four away defeats.
And although he has often played with a lone striker when Burton have travelled, manager Rowett insists he would be playing 4-4-2 every time in an ideal world.
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"We've got to sort this out because we don't want to keep winning one and losing one," said Rowett.
"I've told the players I'd prefer to be playing 4-4-2 in every game.
"In an ideal world, I'd love to have that consistency – playing 4-4-2 every time and keeping the same players in.
"But we haven't been able to do that because it hasn't been working away from home.
"If something's not working, I'll try something else because I'm not the sort to sit and wait for it to come right."
Rowett feels the key lies with the strikers and a return of nine goals away from home in League matches backs that up – winger Jacques Maghoma has three of those, which tends to dent the criticism that he is not so effective away from the Pirelli Stadium. More pertinently, strikers Billy Kee, Calvin Zola and Matt Paterson have only one each on the road in the League.
"If you look at our strikers' records at home, it can look as if a lot of what they hit goes in," said Rowett.
"It's important that they start to produce more away from home as well – because the evidence tells you that when they play well, we generally win the game.
"We've got to start making our own luck on the road.
"But I do think that our strikers are capable of handling that pressure."
The game at Oxford would be tough to call whatever Burton's current form.
Their 4-0 win in the home game against Chris Wilder's side in September was arguably the Brewers' best performance of the season, with two good finishes each from Maghoma and Zola.
Oxford's League form has been good. They had not lost since November until they went down 3-0 away to Fleetwood Town on Saturday, ending a run of four wins in five games.
They were, by their own admission, well off the pace at Fleetwood and, in seeking to put it right tonight, are likely to be recalling aggressive striker James Constable at the end of his four-match suspension.
Burton striker Justin Richards is on loan at Oxford until the weekend – unless the deal is extended – but will not be playing against his club-mates tonight.
Rowett has no significant injury issues after Saturday's hard-earned 1-0 win over Barnet.
Aaron Webster and Nathan Stanton, both unused substitutes on Saturday, picked up minor knocks in training yesterday but are not expected to be unavailable.