GARY Rowett is calling on Burton Albion’s fans to be a 12th man when the Brewers face Plymouth Argyle today.
Albion badly need three points to stay in the race for automatic promotion from League Two.
Last season the roof almost came off the Pirelli Stadium as more than 4,000 Brewers fans saw Matt Paterson’s late goal bring a 1-0 win over the Pilgrims.
Rowett would love a similar atmosphere today, kick-off 3pm, as he guns for three vital points.
“We need the fans now, just as much as they need us to perform,” he said. “I appreciate that times are hard and I appreciate that the novelty of us being a Football League club might have worn off a bit.
“Derby down the road are doing well, too, and that might have an effect (on the gate).
“But what we lack in quality we more than make up for in effort and determination.
“There are 20-odd players desperate – and proud – to play for that shirt and that badge.
“They’re a team the fans should be proud of.”
Rowett himself knows what a difference the crowd can make.
He was part of the Derby County side which led 3-0 after 33 minutes against Leeds United at Elland Road in November 1997 before disastrously going down 4-3.
The hostile Yorkshire crowd was instrumental in Leeds getting victory that day – and Rowett has not forgotten it.
“I’ve played in games in different circumstances and I’ve had the boot on both feet,” he said.
“Playing for Derby, one year we were away to Leeds and went 3-0 up in the first half and the game was dead.
“One goal went in for Leeds and the atmosphere changed.
“You could feel that lift around you.
“Before we knew it, the roof was off Elland Road and the fans almost scored the goals for Leeds as they won 4-3.”
Not all games are as dramatic as that, but Rowett would love Burton’s fans to do their bit.
“When you’re playing for a team it can be a flat game and it’s just not happening - that’s the reality sometimes,” he said.
“If the crowd can lift a little bit, whether that’s from a shot or a corner or a tackle, it gets you going and can give you momentum.
“It’s hugely important.”
With six games left, today’s clash is crucial in Albion’s task of bridging a five-point gap to third-placed Chesterfield.
“It’s a huge game - every one is a huge game now,” said Rowett. “I said it to the players with 13 games to go and I’m saying it to them now.
“We need to win games. What we’ve done is become a very difficult team to beat and what we need to do now is turn that into wins as well.”