GARY Rowett reckons strikers Billy Kee and Rene Howe really clicked into gear as Burton Albion got through to the third round of the FA Cup.
The Brewers beat Fleetwood 1-0 in Tuesday night’s second round replay at the Pirelli Stadium.
Kee netted the winner – his fourth in four matches – while he and Howe were a handful all night for the visitors, impressing their boss.
“When you see them both play like that, that’s why we brought Rene here and that’s what I know Bill can do,” said Rowett.
“It’s probably why I’ve been the harshest on those two this season – I know what they’ve got.
“Sometimes I feel as though I’m letting them down if I let them play to 50 per cent of their capability.
“I know what they can do, I know they’re going to be a handful, will be strong, run the channels and can play with movement and hold the ball up.
“That’s the best we’ve linked and held the ball up in those forward areas, certainly with those two, this season.
“They’ve deserved that for the hard work they’ve put in.”
Howe found himself out of the first-team recently but worked hard to get back in and has deserved a goal for his efforts in the last few games.
“He was out of the squad because I know what he’s got,” said Rowett. “It’s not just the goalscoring - it’s the fight, the chase, the quality - and they’ve got all of those things.
“I was really, really pleased.
“They were a real handful for Fleetwood’s backline.”
Rowett rates Tuesday night’s performance against the Cod Army right up there with any put in at home this season.
It has been far from plain sailing at the Pirelli, with Burton winning six, drawing four and losing four of their home encounters in league and cup.
“I thought we were really really good,” said Rowett, whose side visit Hartlepool on Saturday for a League Two clash.
“It was as good as we’ve played at home this season.
“We stepped up 15 or 20 yards and we knew we had to be a bit more positive than in the away tie.
“We had to take the game to them as the home team. I was really pleased with that.
“We played with a little bit more verve if you like and the front two were very lively.
“All over the park I thought we were really, really good.
“We took a bit more care and that’s all we asked of the players.”
Rowett was also impressed with how his side closed out the game without any undue pressure from the visitors.
“If you look at last season - and I don’t really want to talk about it, but you use it as a bit of a benchmark - how many games did we sit there with 15 minutes to go, 3-0 up and the game wasn’t over?” said the manager.
“At the moment we’ve been really, really professional.
“We’re also second or third in the league list of clean sheets.
“Once again, if we’re not getting that second goal - and we had opportunities to seal the game against Fleetwood - it’s important we stop the other team from scoring.
“Sharpsy (Ian Sharps) marshalled the defence very well.”
THE Anglesey Arms, in Stretton, is running a coach to Mansfield on New Year’s Day for Burton Albion’s game.
It leaves the pub at 1.15pm with seats priced at £8.
Bookings can be made by calling Reg Drew on 07864 679249 or by calling in at the pub and leaving a name and contact number.
The club is also running coaches, firstly to Hartlepool on Saturday, with seats costing £18 and departure at 10.30am from the Pirelli.
For the Mansfield game, tickets cost £8 and coaches depart at 1.15pm.