Strike pair's work-rate as well as goals set the tone for Brewers, says Rowett
GARY Rowett has called for more of the same from Billy Kee and Calvin Zola after declaring that it was more than just their goalscoring which made the pair the heroes of Burton Albion's 3-2 win over Rochdale on Boxing Day.
Kee and Zola set each other up for goals and Kee also netted a free kick in the win.
But, as Burton approach a tough test against in-form Southend United at the Pirelli Stadium tomorrow, Brewers boss Rowett says the pair's defensive work set the standard for the rest of the team.
"As tight as the game was, I think it was the best we've played for a while," said Rowett.
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"That was due to the tempo and especially due to the work-rate of the two centre-forwards.
"Sometimes, doing well is about putting enough pressure on the opposition, especially if they like to pass it from the back, as Rochdale do.
"Billy and Calvin worked hard to get tight. We saw a lot of misplaced or forced passes as a result and we were able to capitalise on those.
"If they start well, it sparks off the others, it gets the crowd behind you and you get confident.
"As a team, when we defend better, we get more chances at the other end, too.
"We also showed more composure on the ball – there were less aimless balls played to the strikers.
"Now I'm being greedy – I want to see that from them all the time."
Although he will again play 4-4-2 at home, Rowett may not use exactly the same template for success against a Southend side who have now gone 14 games unbeaten, winning eight of them – although they are only four points ahead of Burton.
They have a notably in-form strike force of their own, with Gavin Tomlin, signed from Dagenham & Redbridge, having scored 13 goals in his last 11 games alongside Britt Assombalonga, who is on loan from Watfiord.
"Southend are different to Rochdale," said Rowett.
"They are a lot more powerful and physically capable of hurting you and they'll be strong at set-pieces.
"They have a few back from injury since we beat them at their place (in October).
"Assombalonga looks a terrific find on loan and they've added Tomlin since we last played them.
"So it's a different team to the one we beat but, arguably, they were the better side when we beat them anyway.
"They have got on a roll and some teams have the quality to keep it going when they do.
"But I don't fear any team at home. We have three or four players who really come alive in our home games and I wish I could get them to do it more often away from home as well."
Going on a long unbeaten run is something Burton have yet to manage but Rowett points out that few teams have.
"Once, when we had a blip, I looked at other teams' results and realised that five out of the top six had only won one of their last six games," he said.
"It shows that, whatever your resources, it's actually very difficult to stay up there.
"If a team can have one good month, it can make a huge difference."