BURTON Albion striker Billy Kee says he felt before yesterday’s game that he was going to score against former club Accrington Stanley.
He did exactly that on his return to the starting line-up — and his 10th-minute strike proved to be the winner.
Kee spent a spell on loan at Stanley when he was at Leicester City and returned to haunt them at the Pirelli Stadium.
Midfielder Jacques Maghoma did superbly to dig out a cross from the left by-line, picking out Kee, who played a one-two with strike partner Calvin Zola before firing home.
Kee has been somewhat in and out of Albion’s line-up this season and, having been left on the bench for the previous week’s 1-0 FA Cup victory at Crewe Alexandra, was delighted to be back on the scoresheet.
He said: “It was nice to score early on and play today and start, of course, but I think you could see how good of a team performance it was with our defending.
“I never thought we were gonna lose it today, even before the game. We looked up for it and I think we’ve shown that in bits and bobs.
“To be fair to them, they tried passing the ball and that, but I thought we had a little bit too much for them.
“I had a feeling today that I was gonna score because it was against one of my former clubs — I was up for it, though I’m up for it for every game.
“Anyone I score against, it’s nice, but as a team, we started very quick and we put it on them early, and we got the early goal which, in the end, won us the game.
“Mags (Maghoma) has done really well to get it back and Calvin’s done a little flick back inside to me. It was a good move and we have got that in the locker.
“I think lately, some people have been on our backs for the long ball, but in this league you have to mix it up a bit.
“At the end of the day, we’ve shown that bit of class and we’ve won the game from it.”
Kee scored 12 goals in as many starts when he broke into the Albion team last season following his move from Torquay United, but a groin injury which required two operations brought his debut campaign at the Pirelli Stadium to a premature halt.
He returned in pre-season and fans’ expectations were high that the 22-year-old could carry on where he left off.
That has not happened yet, but he is happy with the five goals he has to his name this season, saying that he believes the form he showed last season may never be replicated again.
“Last season was a one-off, you know what I mean, I came in and I was flying on a one-off season, but I’ve still got five goals and I think any striker around Christmas time, with a lot of games coming up, would take five goals, he said.
“Stop-start? You can say that, but I’ve still started the majority of the games and I can’t moan at that.
“I think people are thinking it’s stop-start because I started so well last season, but I’m trying my hardest and that’s the way it is.
“I was a lot less fitter last season and a lot bigger, but everything I hit went in.
“It ain’t gonna be like that — I don’t think I’ll probably get that in my career again.
“If it does happen, great, but I’m just gonna try and work as hard as I can.”
Despite not being in the starting line-up, with boss Gary Rowett opting for a 4-3-3 formation away from home, Kee felt the cup win over Crewe was crucial following successive League Two defeats to Aldershot Town and Wycombe Wanderers and says he has no qualms about the manager leaving him out if it gets results for the team.
He said: “The previous two league defeats were sad because they were down the bottom of the league, but with this league it’s hard like that because anyone can beat anyone.
“You go into games not wanting to lose and the fans got on our backs a little bit, but today they were good, and I think we proved ourselves and put ourselves back up there.
“I think the cup result was massive. We changed our formation, we went there and nicked the 1-0 again.
“We’re keeping clean sheets and that’s a massive thing.
“I just don’t think we’re going into games thinking we’re gonna lose and at home I think we can beat anyone.
“I know we lost the two games before that, but we’ve bounced back with two wins.
“Against them higher teams I think you sometimes have to do that and I’m gonna respect Gaz (Rowett), whatever he wants to do he can do — I’m not a moaning player and it works for him.
“You can’t say anything if it works and every time he’s done it it’s worked.
“Today I’ve come back in and proved I can play, and that’s what I want, but we’ve still got Justin (Richards) on the bench who in training is looking sharp, and he’s another one who can fit in at any time and it’ll work for us.”
Kee also hailed Albion’s central defenders, saying any team in the league would want them in their squad.
“The back four were superb and they’re always superb,” he said.
“I’d say we’ve got the best four or five centre-halves in the league with Stanno (Nathan Stanton) and G (Aaron Webster) on the bench who can play anywhere.”