GARY Rowett has backed his Burton Albion players to bounce back from Saturday’s gut-wrenching defeat at struggling Northampton Town.
The Brewers sank 1-0 at Sixfields to pretty much end their hopes of automatic promotion from League Two.
The defeat leaves them six points off third spot with just four games remaining.
A 3-3 draw at Accrington last season, which effectively ended the Brewers’ hopes of reaching the top three, also came in the 42nd game of the campaign.
Rowett admitted his frustration at not taking that final step, but has backed the players to respond – and says they are better placed for play-off success than last season.
“I’ve said to the staff that it’s disappointing for me that every time we look like we’ve got a chance to go the extra mile we just fall a little bit short,” he said.
“I don’t think that’s necessarily a slight on the players.
“They’re a tough group and a good group and I’ve said to them, whichever way it works, we’re going to be in a better position – if it was to be in the play-offs I think we’ll be in a better position than we were last season.
“But our performances have got to be a lot better than that.
“These games are edgy games and everyone wants to win all their remaining games but it’s not always that simple.
“We’ll keep pushing.”
The Northampton defeat was very painful for everyone involved with the club, being as it came against struggling opponents at a time when victory was crucial.
Rowett felt for the 465 fans who made the journey down the M1, only to witness an unusually insipid display from Albion.
“It was the most disappointing game of the season because we didn’t create enough chances,” said the manager.
“I felt in forward areas we just didn’t do enough and didn’t give them enough service.
“It was just a general lack of a performance we were looking for.
“It’s going to happen and unfortunately for us it’s happened in a very, very important game.
“That’s the biggest disappointment and I feel sorry for our fans who’ve turned up in their numbers and supported the team really well.
“Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get the performance we would’ve liked.”