GARY Rowett praised his Burton Albion battlers as they again proved a thorn in the side of fellow League Two promotion hopefuls Chesterfield.
The Brewers were unable to extend their winning streak against the Spireites to a fourth game — but Rowett saluted “an excellent away performance” as his men emerged from a second-half siege with a 1-1 draw at the Proact Stadium on Saturday.
Jacques Maghoma put the Brewers ahead with his seventh goal of the season in the 34th minute, and all the hosts had to show for their overwhelming domination after the break was a Marc Richards equaliser.
Rowett felt the result justified his decision to opt for a defensive formation that meant there was no place in the starting line-up for Billy Kee, despite his winning goal against Accrington Stanley the previous weekend.
Albion have struggled for points on their travels this season, but Rowett and his men took inspiration from their FA Cup victory at Crewe Alexandra in their previous away game.
Rowett said: “We set out to contain them, which is why we played the system we did.
“It worked against Crewe when we hung on to win - and it worked again today to a certain degree.
“We couldn’t hang to the win this time, but it’s a very, very good point against an excellent side.
“We showed some terrific resolve and we got into good areas at times, which is what you ask of an away performance.
“We could have been the side that went to Exeter and played scintillating football and lost three-nil.
“It’s certainly a more appealing feeling to come away from here with a point.
“I feel really proud. I thought it was an excellent performance when you appreciate we were playing a team that beat (third-placed) Cheltenham four-one in their last home game and had won their last four League games.
“We knew it was going to be a difficult game but I felt as the first half wore on that we got into some really, really good positions.
“That was always the plan and we could perhaps have made a little bit more of them actually.
“As the game wore on, we knew they were going to come at us and get some chances.
“They hit the bar and hit the post, but I felt we also had some good opportunities such as the header Calvin (Zola) should have scored from four or five yards out.
“They had nothing to lose at one-nil down and it was inevitable they would get bodies forward to try and break us down.
“Had we just had a little bit more quality at certain times, it would have allowed us opportunities as the game opened up.
“The final ball was maybe not as good as we would have liked, but I was thoroughly pleased with the performance because we did what we wanted to do.
“Chesterfield have spent a lot of money, they’ve invested really well and they’ve got some terrific players.
“I wouldn’t mind one or two of them in my team if I’m honest, and on that basis I thought it was a thoroughly good away performance.
“If we can keep beating your Accringtons and sides like that and keep picking up points away from home, that’s all you can ask.”
“It was unfortunate for Billy (to be left out), but it was certainly no slight on him.
“It’s just what we thought would get us a result and you could argue it did.
“A lot of teams will come here this season and get overrun with the crowd and the impetus.
“They’ll get a lot of joy from that this season and I think it will be a brave person who says Chesterfield won’t be up there.”
The result left Albion ninth in the table but narrowed the gap between themselves and a play-off place to just one point.