GARY Rowett acknowledged Leicester City’s Championship class as Burton Albion’s FA Cup run fizzled out at the King Power Stadium.
Albion’s hopes of repeating their stunning Capital One Cup win on the same ground earlier in the season were dashed as the Foxes eased to a 2-0 victory in Saturday’s third round tie.
The Brewers were on the ropes when costly signing Chris Wood gave the hosts the lead inside three minutes and only 21 minutes were on the clock when Ritchie De Laet delivered the knockout blow.
Rowett said: “Leicester are a terrific side with a home record that’s bordering on the sensational.
“They’ve got so much quality, including the players coming off the bench, that I’m just relieved we didn’t lose by five or six.”
Albion’s patched-up defence failed to survive Leicester’s early assault, leaving Rowett to regret the absence of injured full-back Anthony O’Connor and sick skipper Zander Diamond.
The Brewers boss said: “I think a massive factor was that we’ve only got four fit defenders in the whole of the club at the moment.
“With the changes we had to make in this type of game, I thought we might struggle against their type of players.
“We needed to be very solid and start the game well because we knew Leicester would come at us. It was important we weathered the early storm.
“Unfortunately, we went behind inside three minutes and we knew straight away we had a mountain to climb.
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“You’ve got the problem then of not be able to go shooting forward because of the risk of conceding another two or three.
“I think Leicester gave us a little bit of respect picking the team they did with the big lads (Marko Futacs and Wood) up front.
“I think as well, it was always going to be hard game for us to win because of what happened the last time we came here.
“We were hopeful we could do it twice but conceding two poor goals made it very difficult.
“Actually, in the first 25 minutes we had some decent opportunities to counter attack, and we showed that if we could have avoided those two goals we were always going to be there to try and nick one.
“John McGrath had half a chance, Robbie Weir forced a great save from (Kasper) Schmeichel and there was also a ball in the box for Calvin Zola.
“There were one or two good moments in that first half, but the second goal obviously meant we had a problem.
“The difficult bit with the second half was that part of you realises it’s a cup game and you want to go and chase it.
“But you look at Leicester’s team and you see the armoury they’ve got, and part if your thinking is that they could also go and get five or six if we go out and try to attack them too much.
“That was a problem because whenever we went forward, they broke and looked like they were going to score again.
“That’s the problem when you’re playing a good quality side.
“Leicester are flying high in the Championship and they’ve got more than one way of causing you a problem.
“I don’t think there’s probably many managers who will say this, but after three minutes I was already thinking ‘please don’t go and score seven or eight.’”
One consolation for Albion on a day 1,600 travelling fans went home disappointed was the promising debut by winger Adam Drury, the 19-year-old new loan signing from Manchester City.
Rowett said: “I thought Adam did excellent for a 19-year-old coming out and playing his first senior game in the FA Cup at Leicester.
“It was a real challenge for him and we were obviously concerned how he would handle that.
“We threw him in because we had nothing to lose and I thought he showed us what he’s got.
“He was lively, he ran in behind and he had a bit of pace and purpose about him.
“I certainly think he’ll cause a few League Two left-backs a bit of a problem.”