GARY ROWETT is looking for Burton Albion to make a flying start to the New Year after seeing his side strengthen their League Two promotion hopes.
The Brewers boss will be seeking a third win in seven days when his men take on York City at Bootham Crescent tomorrow, kick-off 3pm, boosted by successive home victories against Rochdale and Southend United.
Albion followed up their 3-2 Boxing Day defeat of Dale with a 2-0 success against the in-form Shrimpers on Saturday — despite ending the clash against opponents on a 14-game unbeaten run with 10 men.
The 75th minute dismissal of defender Nathan Stanton for what Rowett described as a “stupid” second yellow card was all that marred a determined display that lifted the team into the play-off places.
Otherwise, the Brewers boss had nothing but praise for his side after they completed a double over fellow promotion contenders for the second game running.
And he quickly set his sights on maintaining the momentum that has gathered quickly since the 3-2 defeat at Barnet in the lead up to Christmas.
The Brewers boss said: “I’m greedy and would like to go away to York and get another result after two magnificent performances.
“If I’m being honest, after the Barnet game I was a little bit concerned that we might just be letting things slip.
“We just came off the boil a little bit with that result, but I think these last two games have really refocused the players and given us that little bit of extra belief to take into the New Year.”
Calvin Zola’s 11th goal of the season and a deflected shot by Lee Bell gave Albion a 2-0 half-time lead against Southend, which they carefully protected even after going down to 10 men.
Rowett said: “I thought we were absolutely magnificent in terms of our effort, our workrate and the opportunities we created against a team like Southend.
“They haven’t conceded too many goals in the last 10 games and they’ve been on a fantastic run.
“But we proved again that if we’re on our mettle, do the right things and work hard enough as a team we’ll cause anyone trouble.
“They tried to throw everything at us but winning first balls at both ends gave us a chance and stopped their momentum.
“If you look at it, even with 10 men, the fact that we limited them to very, very few chances just goes to show what a great group we’ve got at the moment.
“Southend are a tough, strong side and that’s what got them on a run of 14 games unbeaten.
“Even after the sending off, we had chances. Calvin had a shot (saved) and Jacques (Maghoma) had a one-on-one where he maybe just ran out of legs.
“I was just really pleased with the way with dealt with everything.
“That’s two doubles in four days both against good teams and very different teams.
“One was a team who can cause you problems with passing and movement and the other’s a real physically strong team, but I think we’ve been fantastic over the two games.”
Rowett was less impressed with off-the-ball altercation with Luke Prosser that resulted in Stanton being shown his second yellow card of the game.
He said: “It was stupid of someone of Stanno’s experience to even be next to someone and allow himself to get involved.
“I didn’t really seen what went on but what he did was to give the referee a chance to send him off.
“Stanno said he didn’t touch him but because they were both together the ref felt that once he booked one, he then had to book the other which in our case meant a red card.
“I thought it was all a little bit unfortunate.”
Rowett is hoping that Marcus Holness shakes off a groin strain to replace the suspended Stanton at Bootham Crescent – but will have no hesitation in calling on the services of Aaron Webster if necessary.
The long-serving defender came off the bench to fill in with good effect against Southend after Stanton’s dismissal.
Rowett said: “We’re hoping that Marcus will be able to play at York.
“We just didn’t want to risk him against Southend because we knew we had Aaron on the bench as cover.
“Aaron did great when he came on, absolutely brilliant. I think the game suited him because he just had to sit in there and head balls.
“What you know with Aaron is that he’ll do that against anyone and it showed once again that we’ve got players chomping at the bit to be involved."