DOMINIC Knowles is hoping to have done enough to earn an appearance in Burton Albion’s big FA Cup clash with Bournemouth tomorrow after breaking his goalscoring duck for the club.
The young striker netted twice in the final 20 minutes of Saturday’s home clash with Cheltenham Town as the Brewers overturned a 1-0 deficit to run out 2-1 victors.
He will certainly be in the squad for the rearranged trip to the south coast to take on the Cherries, and could well start after his well-deserved brace, which was the highlight of an impressive cameo in which he showed good strength, awareness, pace and anticipation.
“Hopefully I’ll get some time, whether it’s off the bench or starting – that’s up to the gaffer,” said Knowles.
“It’s a big occasion for everyone and hopefully I’ll be playing.”
When the third-round draw was originally made, there was something of an anti-climax surrounding the long trip to take on a mid-table Championship side, but now Albion know that if they can upset the odds and win, they will earn a televised visit from footballing giants Liverpool in round four.
“That would be brilliant,” said Knowles.
“Especially on TV as well, that would be a big game.”
Knowles was fairly prolific in his two spells in non-league last season, racking up 20 goals in total for Gainsborough Trinity and Harrogate Town, but it has taken him 17 appearances for Burton to open his account.
“Finally it’s come – it’s been a long time,” he said. “It’s got a bit of a monkey off my back.
“I’ve scored a few for the reserves and in training, but this was the big one for me, to try and get one for the first team.
“I wouldn’t say I put pressure on myself, but I’m a striker, and if I’m not scoring then I’m not doing my job.
“The first one just came to me and you just do what you try to do in training, which is to score.
“I thought I wasn’t going to get it because it looked as though the defender was going to tackle and I was really pleased when the ball went in.
“The second one, I had a bit more time on the ball and knew where I wanted to place it.”
As has been the case in a number of games recently, Albion were lively in attack against Cheltenham, and fashioned a number of scoring opportunities.
However, they proved profligate until Knowles and his fellow substitute – debutant Zeli Ismail – came off the bench and combined for the equaliser and then the winner.
And Knowles was quick to apportion credit to his new team-mate and fellow youngster, although they had not spent their time alongside each other on the Albion bench planning those goals.
“We didn’t really talk tactics, I think Zeli was just brilliant out wide,” he said.
“He was taking players on and crossing, and it’s a striker’s job to get on the end.
“He looks really sharp, he’s got good feet and he’s set two goals up.
“You can’t ask for any more really.”
With fellow striker Rene Howe having left the club and Michael Symes recovering from injury, Knowles admitted it was a great time to make his case to Gary Rowett that the manager need not look far to find back-up for current first-choice pairing Billy Kee and Adam McGurk.
“I timed it well,” said Knowles.
“It’s not really been a case of being frustrated by my limited chances because I knew I would have to be patient.
“We’ve got Gurks and Billy and Symes as well, so there’s plenty of good players at the club.
“They’re all experienced strikers who have scored lots of goals in their careers.
“I’ve known all along that there are good players in front of me and I knew I would have to wait my turn.
“They all deserve their turn in the team as well, but I’m just going to keep working hard and hopefully I’ll get another chance to prove I’ve got something to offer.
“I’m not going to expect to walk into the team.”
Albion bested their opponents for most of the match, and ended it boasting 21 shots to their opponents’ seven.
Among those chances was one for Kee when he beat visiting keeper Scott Brown but saw his shot hit one post before rebounding and hitting the other.
McGurk, Zander Diamond and Jimmy Phillips also went close, while the Robins only fashioned a couple of clear-cut chances.
“I think it was deserved,” said Knowles.
“We piled a lot of pressure on at the end and a win’s a win.
“The keeper made some great saves, Billy has hit both posts at the same time.
“I think we probably did edge it.
“Today showed we have a very strong squad, and it proved a point because we showed we can go behind and still come back to win the game.
“We’re second in the league and, as far as promotion is concerned, it’s in our hands now.”