BURTON Albion boss Gary Rowett has warned his men of the dangers of taking victory for granted against League Two basement club Barnet at Underhill tonight, kick-off 8pm.
The Brewers will be looking for three points to lift themselves into a play-off place — albeit until tomorrow afternoon’s round of fixtures.
But Rowett warned last night: “We’ve been in this position before and we’ve had to learn a harsh lesson.”
Victory over Aldershot Town at the Pirelli Stadium a month ago would have lifted the Brewers to third place.
Instead, they dropped to 10th in a congested table, with Spanish striker Dani Lopez grabbing the only goal of the game as the Shots climbed out of the bottom two.
Four days later Rowett’s men came to grief again when they crashed 3-0 away to Wycombe Wanderers, who were also in the relegation zone at the time.
Rowett said: “People look at the league table and see Barnet at the bottom, but I think it’s possibly a more dangerous fixture than if we were playing one of the top sides.”
The Brewers expect to come face-to-face with Edgar Davids, who also shares managerial responsibilities at the North London club with.
However, the legendary Dutch star has so far been unable to lift the Bees out of the doldrums, although thy have not lost a home league game since crashing 4-1 at home to Plymouth Argyle on October 13.
Rowett said: “I think it’s fair to say Barnet had a lot of ground to make up and they can now see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’ve seen them a couple of times and, while they haven’t picked up as many points as they would like, they’re not that bad either.
“If you allow them big spaces they will exploit it and counter attack you with pace.”
Barnet’s expected style of play could persuade Rowett to persist with the cautious approach that has helped them to improve their away form with an FA Cup victory at Crewe Alexandra and a hard-earned point against Chesterfield.
In both of those games, the Brewers operated with Calvin Zola as a lone targetman and packed their midfield to stifle opponents renowned for their creative football.
Rowett said: “We’ve done well in the last two away games, but we still need to improve our record on the road if we are to keep ourselves in a good position in the league table.
“We chose a certain way of playing at Crewe and Chesterfield and it worked for us in terms of the results.
“The question is whether we now suddenly change that philosophy just because we’re playing the side at the bottom of the league.
“We’ve got resilience in abundance and while we want to add quality to our game in certain areas, we certainly don’t want to compromise our strengths.
“Really good teams can do both, but I have to keep reminding myself and other people that we’re still a work in progress.
“We might not out pass the opposition at times, but we’ve got a terrific bunch of lads who work their socks off.”
Midfield anchorman Lee Bell misses the game through suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at the Proact Stadium last weekend.
Club skipper John McGrath is hoping to make his first start since undergoing a foot operation during the summer, though the holding role could go to Jack Dyer.