GARY Rowett says the strength of his Burton Albion squad came to the fore in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hartlepool United.
The Brewers went seven unbeaten as they took a point from Victoria Park, with Phil Edwards’ early goal cancelled out by a second-half strike from Bradley Walker.
Rowett made three changes to his side, resting Rene Howe and not risking Lee Bell (hamstring) or Alex MacDonald (virus).
“We didn’t make these changes last season and in hindsight I felt we needed to be braver and rotate the squad,” said the Albion manager.
“You can’t talk about the quality of the squad if you’re not going to use it.
“We changed it today with some of the substitutions and the team selection to a certain degree as well.
“I had half an eye on the next four games after this.
“I know sometimes that’s going to make people wonder why we did them, but taking Billy (Kee) and Adam (McGurk) off keeps them fresh for the next few games, which are going to be difficult to get through at the same tempo we want to play with.”
Bell and MacDonald should be fit for the Boxing Day game at home to Northampton, while Howe will be fresh for the clash.
Damien McCrory, though, is doubtful with a hamstring injury he picked up in the first half on Saturday.
“I would hope Belly will make Boxing Day, and Alex I would hope to see as well,” said Rowett.
“That’s another two bodies and Ren’s had a little breather today after playing three games on the bounce - again that was with half an eye on the home game.
“We need to make sure we keep people fresh rather than hope they can get through this amount of games and risk serious injuries.
“I’ve said about Zander (Diamond) being important and today he had to come in and play 45 minutes and I thought he was excellent.
“(Losing Damo was) probably the one downside to come out of the weekend, if you like.
“He felt his hamstring tighten, and we’ve got to hope that’s just the travelling and the amount of games he’s played.
“The timing of it is bad.
“Any other time, he might miss one game at the worst, and now the he might miss three or four.
“We’ll have to have a little look at that.”
As for the performance, Rowett was largely pleased and saw it as a point gained and not two lost.
“For 60 minutes it was as well as we’ve played away from home this season,” he said. “We’ve created lots and lots of chances and they haven’t had too many, particularly against the wind, which I thought might be a problem.
“I was really pleased with the front two, who I thought caused them all sorts of problems, getting into some great positions.
“I said at half-time the final bit of quality was just lacking a little bit.
“When they scored, it was a poor goal for us to concede.
“We should really have won the first ball against them straight down the middle.
“It was a soft goal and after that they had a spell of 10 or 15 minutes, like you know they’re going to at home, where they put us under a bit of pressure.
“But we had a couple of other half-good opportunities in and around the final third with which we maybe should have done a little bit more.
“We saw the game out and you’d have to say it’s a point to build on. It’s an unbeaten run of seven games now.
“I’m thoroughly pleased with the performance and I’ve got to say I think it’s a point gained rather than two lost.”
Edwards took his goal - his second for the club - very well only a day after Rowett asked him to follow up his account-opener in the 1-0 win at Exeter.
“I only said to him the day before it was about time he scored!” said Rowett.
“The back four are disappointed they’ve not had another shut-out to add to the ones that they’ve had recently.
“Again, I thought we were pretty solid defensively and Deano’s (Lyness) not had too much to do, first-half.
“But if we’d taken the chances, the game’s put to bed.
“That was as dominant as we’ve been for 55 to 60 minutes.
“I think we frustrated them - you know the way they try to play.
“They try to pass the ball and get lots of bodies in the middle of the pitch with a little bit of movement in there.
“Obviously, with the two younger lads up there they’ve not got as much physical presence to hurt you with a ball down the middle.
“It’s about blocking spaces.”