GARY Rowett says Burton Albion need to take their heavy defeat at Bristol Rovers on the chin as they look to stay in the race for promotion from League Two.
The Brewers sank 3-0 at the Memorial Stadium on Saturday as their seven-match unbeaten run came to a shuddering halt.
They never fully recovered from shipping an early goal and were a pale shadow of the team which scored 13 goals in their last four matches.
“When you look at a general lack of performance, sometimes you’ve just got to take it on the chin,” said the Albion boss.
“We knew it would come at some point – we aren’t going to win eight or nine on the spin.
“We write it off and go into next week.”
Rowett admitted he was tempted to make changes on Saturday, but decided to keep faith with the same 11 players who played so well in the last three games.
“Hindsight’s a wonderful thing,” said the Brewers boss. “But if I’d had a little bit of hindsight last year (7-1 defeat) I would’ve punctured the tyres on the coach myself on the way down there!
“I spoke about it in the week.
“You sometimes get a feeling that they’re not going to have the same tempo.
“But it’s very difficult when you’ve been winning games.
“You change it and lose 4-0 and you did the wrong thing.
“I just felt I’d give them the opportunity to see if we could keep going.
“We just didn’t show the same energy levels and the same intensity we’ve seen in the last seven performances.
“I think what you saw was that anything that could fall Bristol’s way just happened to do so.
“It was a little bit like the previous time we played them down here.
“That’s what happens if you put enough pressure on the opposition and enough balls in the box and you run hard enough.
“I just felt today that I could look back over the 90 minutes and we didn’t test them, get in behind them and hold the ball in forward areas.
“We just weren’t at the races.
“But that’s one game in eight we haven’t been at the races.
“If I can say that after the next eight games I’ll be a very happy man.”
Despite Burton’s lofty position in the table – they are still third after Northampton Town lost – Rowett is trying to keep feet on the ground.
“We’re not talking about any type of promotion push,” he said. “We’re not talking about the play-offs or automatic promotion.
“We’re just talking about doing the right things.
“How many people would’ve thought we’d be up there in third or fourth spot when we were favourites for relegation at the start of the season?
“We’re working as hard as we can to get results.
“We’re little old Burton – we’re up there. We’re all getting a little bit dizzy and we’ve got to make sure we keep our feet on the ground.
“Once you start thinking ‘can we finish in the top three’ people start getting panicky.
“Once you start thinking ‘can we get in the play-offs’ then every game becomes a must-win.
“There’s just under a quarter of the season left and a hell of a lot of points left to gain.
“We’re going to give it a go but it’d be no different if it was one game in or two games in.”