GARY Rowett says the pressure was off for Burton Albion as they secured an excellent 0-0 draw at Portsmouth on Tuesday night.
The Brewers stood firm in front of almost 13,000 fans at Fratton Park and took what could be a vital point in the promotion race.
Having beaten Oxford United 2-1 on Saturday in a crunch top-of-the-table clash, Rowett says Tuesday’s visit to hostile Hampshire was almost a bonus game.
“I said it on the way down to the staff that tonight was almost a free game in a way after winning the last two,” he said.
“You could come with no fear and think if you pick a point up, fantastic, if we could pick up all three, brilliant.
“And if we lost it wouldn’t kill us.
“I would’ve taken four points from the two games – and conceding one goal in two against a very good Oxford side who are up there, and a Portsmouth side who are up there in the form charts over the last 10 games and don’t concede many goals.
“I was particularly pleased with tonight’s efforts.”
Rowett made a couple of changes to his starting side, with Marcus Holness replacing the injured Ian Sharps and Lee Bell coming in for Matty Palmer to freshen up the midfield.
In retrospect, the Brewers boss felt he could have made even more changes.
“Looking back I might have changed one or two more as well,” he said. “But (it’s difficult) when you’re playing well and have won two games.
“People are doing well, (Dominic) Knowlesy and Billy (Kee) have come up with good combination play and looked quite dangerous.
“You’ve got to be fair to them and give them an opportunity. Whether they can do it or not at another game down here is up to them.
“And we looked to change things off the bench like we did.
“Then it’s up to someone to come and grab that starting spot with what they do.
“I thought there were some really good performances.”
Albion also passed a test of their character in front of a partisan home crowd - and Rowett knew they would be fine.
“We’ve had character in abundance and it’s never been in question,” he said. “That’s something we try to recruit and are always speaking to the players about.
“We’ve got a great bunch, like I’ve said before.
“We might occasionally fall short of that quality you’re really looking for, but they’ve got it, it’s just getting it out in games and winning games with it.
“Billy’s had two good chances, Knowlesy’s had one he’s flashed wide and a good header at the back post he should’ve done better with.
“Phil’s (Edwards) had an excellent header from a set piece and we’ve had a goal chalked off that I’d like to see again.
“They caused a few problems with their size and putting balls into the box but I thought we dealt with it really, really well.”