GARY Rowett reckons Burton Albion are starting to get the defensive side of their game right in their fifth season in the Football League.
The Brewers were a soft touch in their first three seasons after winning promotion to League Two from the Conference.
They conceded 71 in their debut season, 70 in 2010/11 and 81 in 2011/12, the season which saw them struggle for the first time and former manager Paul Peschisolido depart.
Last season there was an improvement as they reached the play-offs, with 65 goals shipped, while this season things seem to have gone up another level with just 20 goals going in the first 19 games.
“We’re working really, really hard to stop conceding,” said boss Rowett, who will hope for another miserly display at the back away to Fleetwood in today’s FA Cup second round tie, kick-off 3pm.
“We’ve now had seven clean sheets in nine and it’s a really good statistic to have.
“The coaching staff and the team probably appreciate it in some ways more than other people.
“It can be looked at as a slightly negative statistic – but it doesn’t mean we’re trying to not concede and not score goals at the same time.
“If you look at the game recently we’ve been doing a lot to get the first goal.
“People have been talking about it a lot recently – we’ve got to have that base to be successful.
“We haven’t had that since we came into the Football League.
“We’ve conceded lots of goals.
“There has been an improvement, but that’s not to say we won’t concede a hatful at some point.”
The manager credits the arrival of tougher characters at the Pirelli Stadium for the improvement, which started last season and has gathered pace this time around.
“On the whole it’s the type of player we’ve brought in from day one,” he said. “I wanted to bring in players who have a desire to work hard for each other.
“I said when I got the job I wanted to create a team which reflected the passion of our fans.
“We’re seeing the character coming through on the field.
“It’s not necessarily just the back four though.
“There is a balance there at the minute with Sharpesy (Ian Sharps), a right footer, and Shane (Cansdell-Sherriff), a left-footer, who know each other’s game well (having played together at Shrewsbury).
“Phil (Edwards) has done well too after not playing the first few games.
“And we saw Zander (Diamond) come on at the weekend for five or 10 minutes in central midfield and he cleared five or six headers away.”