GARY Rowett called Burton Albion’s FA Cup progress “a big achievement” as the Brewers were dealt another cup clash away to Leicester City.
Albion made it to the third round of the competition for only the fifth time in their history after Calvin Zola returned to Gresty Road on Saturday to haunt former club Crewe Alexandra with the only goal in a 1-0 win.
But they will not be breaking new ground at the King Power Stadium next month, having played, and won there in the League Cup already this season.
Zola’s fifth-minute goal proved enough to secure victory for Rowett’s side against their League One hosts — to the delight of more than 550 travelling fans.
The win enhanced Albion’s reputation as giantkillers after cup victories over Sheffield United and Leicester — one of Rowett’s former clubs — earlier this campaign.
The Brewers boss said: “I’m really proud of the players because it’s a big achievement for us.”
Crewe hit the woodwork three times and dominated possession but Rowett thought his side were good value for their victory.
He said: “We looked at the game and said maybe sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say technically the opposition are probably going to be better than us.
“What we didn’t want was lots of space on the pitch for them to exploit, and I thought our tactics worked really well.
“Apart from Calvin’s goal, we had one or two other good opportunities that we could have made more of.
“Chris Palmer had a chance where the keeper just tipped it round (the post) and Jacques Maghoma also had an opportunity early on,
“I thought we could have had even more chances if we had been on the front foot a bit more in certain areas.
“But what pleased me was that we were really hard to play against. I thought it was a really terrific away cup performance.
“We’ve knocked Sheff United and Leicester out of the Capital One Cup and now we’ve knocked Crewe out of the FA Cup.
“At the start of the season, if we’d have said we would be in 10th position in the League at this stage, just two points off the play-offs, and through to round three of the Capital One Cup and now round three of the FA Cup, I’m sure one or two people would have been quite pleased.”
Zola’s goal made it a happy return to his old club for the striker and fellow Crewe old boy Lee Bell, who was handed the captain’s armband in the absence of the suspended Zander Diamond.
Rowett said: “Lee had been a real Crewe stalwart and I felt it appropriate to give him the captain’s armband.
“He played a real captain’s role, which he has done all season.
“He’s been brilliant and I’m really pleased for him and Calvin because it was important to them to come back here and get a result that will make their weekend a little bit nicer.
“Belly was great in that role in front of the back four, where sometimes you have to be strong away from home.”
The victory was made even more creditable in Rowett’s eyes because Diamond’s central defensive partner Nathan Stanton dropped out of the squad through illness, resulting in a late call-up for long-serving Aaron Webster alongside Marcus Holness.
The Brewers boss said: “It wasn’t ideal preparation in terms of Zander (Diamond) being suspended and Stanno being out.
“We lost two centre-halves for the game but I thought Marcus and Aaron did terrifically well.”