GARY Rowett is hopeful Burton Albion’s play-off second leg at Southend can give him some happier memories than his previous experience in the end-of-season shoot-out.
As a player, the Brewers boss took part in two play-off campaigns while at Birmingham City, the club he joined from Derby County.
In 1998/99 he was part of the Blues team which lost 7-6 on penalties to Watford after a 1-1 aggregate draw in the semi-finals.
A year later he was again in the City line-up as they were hammered 4-0 at home by Barnsley in the first leg.
He scored in a 2-1 win at Oakwell, but it was too little, too late for Trevor Francis’ side.
“As a player at Birmingham I played in two,” remembers Rowett. “Two very different experiences, unfortunately with the same outcome.
“We played Watford the first year away from home and lost 1-0. We went back to St Andrews and I think we scored after five minutes and there was probably the best atmosphere I’ve been involved in, but we couldn’t quite get the second. We hit the post, we hit the bar, we hit everything.
“It went to penalties – you might want to say I scored mine if anyone mentions it!
“But we lost on penalties and we got knocked out.
“The next season, a valuable experience as a player, we played at home first against Barnsley and we actually played a formation we’d not played before all season.
“We lost 4-0, so again you look at the experiences and the little things you can learn along the way.
“We got knocked out, incidentally, after I scored in the second leg from full-back, you might want to put that as well!”
What can be learned from that chastening afternoon at St Andrews is not to play a formation which is totally alien to the players, as it was for Rowett and his team-mates.
Come Saturday afternoon Albion will need to do what they know – but Rowett says his men will not sit back and protect their 1-0 advantage as they look to reach the Wembley final on May 26.
“What’s important now is we can’t go down to Roots Hall and hold on and we can’t go down there and invite pressure,” he said.
“We’ve still got to go and attack and we’ve still got to go and play our game.
“Obviously, we’ve got to be mindful of one or two things they might do and whether we can stop them we’ll soon see.”