GARY Rowett praised a committed performance from his Burton Albion side after they ended a run of four games without a win and kept themselves right in the frame for automatic promotion.
The Brewers were made to work hard for their 2-1 win over struggling Accrington Stanley, but got over the line when Billy Kee netted a late penalty.
“I just wanted to see a really committed performance today,” said Albion boss Rowett after Saturday’s win at the Pirelli Stadium.
“I don’t think we’ve not seen that, it’s not that we haven’t been committed, but we haven’t quite done what we want to do well enough.
“I would say that was the brightest we’ve started a game and arguably we could’ve been two or three goals up in the first 10 minutes.
“We wanted to come out quickly and put them under pressure.
“I spoke to the players and told them at this stage of the season it’s all about winning games – it doesn’t matter how you do it. It’s about winning games and that’s it.
“You can look as nice and pretty as you want to, but if you don’t win the game it’s irrelevant and that was it today.
“We needed to win the game.”
Kee gave Burton a 1-0 lead at half-time with a deflected goal before Dean Winnard drew the visitors level.
Albion, though, were denied at least two clear penalties in the first half as Kayode Odejayi repeatedly manhandled Ian Sharps at set pieces.
Referee Andy Haines eventually cracked and awarded a spot kick late on for a foul on Adam McGurk, with Rowett praising his bravery in belatedly punishing blatant shirt pulling.
“There were a few moments in the game – lots of shirt pulls from set pieces,” said the Brewers boss.
“I spoke to the ref and the fourth official at half-time about it because I just felt that sometimes as a ref you’ve got to be brave and make those decisions if you can see them.
“It’s easy not to blow, but some of them were obvious penalties for me.
“I’ve got to take my hat off to the referee in the end.
“I know one or two decisions were a little bit strange but in the end he gave the key one.”
Burton again created plenty of chances but failed to fully capitalise on them, with Rowett wanting his side to be more ruthless in seeing teams off, something they have not quite managed this season.
“We’ve had 14 attempts on goal, seven on target, and should’ve scored more again,” he said.
“We’ve got to be more ruthless.
“We had great opportunities second half early on where I think Dominic Knowles won the ball back off them and you just looked and thought ‘that’s where we need to be more ruthless’ and kill games off.
“We had the clearest chances in a game we’ve had for a while.
“Yes (there was sense of relief at getting a lead at home) and then to get pegged back there was a sense of frustration I suppose.
“But when you don’t take the chances early on in the game you know that might happen.
“I think occasionally when we’ve done okay in games we’ve not hurt the opposition enough.
“Today we had the lion’s share of the ball, we’ve created the most chances, one or two passes can look untidy and I think that sometimes the fans can be a little bit more behind the players occasionally.
“The pitch is bobbly and it isn’t easy at times.
“It was just about winning the game, that’s it.
“What you’ve got is a really committed bunch at the right end of the table.”
Saturday’s win also casts a better light on the away draws the Brewers gained in the previous week.
The two points from Rochdale and Torquay, even though the latter felt like two points lost, could be crucial and certainly counted as Albion climbed up to fourth place at full-time.
“What the win does is it turns one or two recent draws into good points,” said Rowett. “That’s why you need to win your home games.
“I have to say as well if you look at Accrington’s recent results, they’ve had some terrific away results.
“I think they won four or five on the spin away from home. They’ve beaten some very good sides along the way so they’re not an easy side to play by any means.
“You’ve got to give them credit for making the game difficult.”