GARY Rowett is glad his Burton Albion team has been written off by the bookies ahead of their trip to Bradford City for tonight’s play-off semi-final first leg.
The Brewers are the outsiders to seal a place in League One next season – with most bookmakers offering odds of 3-1 on them getting past Bradford and then winning at Wembley.
The Bantams have been installed as big favourites to win tonight, kick-off 7.45pm – but Rowett is happy with that.
“The best thing for us is if you look at the comments, look at the odds, look at everything, people expect Bradford to get through to the final,” he said.
“That’s great for us – we’ve got nothing to lose.
“You’ve got to look for little old Burton going and surprising everyone again.
“We’ve finished top of the play-off spots and something like seven points ahead of Bradford.
“We should be very proud of that and not fear anybody.”
Bradford’s unbelievable run to the League Cup final and late run to claim seventh spot in League Two has made them a favourite with most pundits.
But Rowett says Albion’s cup exploits should not be forgotten.
“What’s great for us is the emphasis is off us as Bradford are the cup specialists,” he said.
“People forget – we’ve done it over the course of a season and we’ve done it in the cups.
“We knocked out Sheffield United, we knocked out Leicester and we knocked out Crewe, so we’ve got particularly good pedigree ourselves and the Bradford game up there we rested three or four of our key players, which they did too - but we’ve been really good in the one-off games.
“People forget that and it puts us in good stead.”
Rowett says the most important thing is to come back to the Pirelli Stadium on Sunday with the tie still alive.
Two close battles at Valley Parade already this season suggests that a third is in the offing.
“It’d be nice if the first game was closely fought,” said the Albion boss.
“We’re both very competitive teams and if you look at the games between us and think about the cup game up there, we were 2-0 up with eight minutes to go and ended up 2-2 (before losing 3-2 in extra-time).
“The last game we had a man sent off and lost 1-0 and we won 1-0 here.
“So, they’ve been relatively tight and I have to say that wouldn’t be the worst scenario for us in the first leg.
“That’s what we’ve got work towards - being very, very hard to beat.
“I’ve been involved in play-off games. I’ve seen how they work and the key is to still be in game in the second leg, particularly for us because it’s at home.
“But at the same we can’t go there and just defend for 90 minutes - you’ve got mix your game up a bit.”