HOW fitting it would be if the first Burton Albion player to score a competitive goal at the Pirelli Stadium was involved when it hosts the Brewers’ 200th fixture at the ground on Sunday.
On August 13, 2005, Aaron Webster scored in a 1-1 Conference draw with Grays Athletic and wrote his name in club history as the first Brewers player to register a competitive goal at the £7.4 million stadium.
Webster, now in his 15th season at the club, has found himself on the sidelines this season as injuries and the form of new signing Damien McCrory have restricted him to just three starts, but he put himself in the frame to face Accrington Stanley on Sunday by playing a starring role in Albion’s FA Cup upset of Crewe Alexandra last weekend.
He will be hoping he has done enough to earn a first League Two start of the season — on a landmark day at the Pirelli Stadium.
The 31-year-old gave a frank and emotional interview following the Brewers’ triumph at Gresty Road, speaking of his struggle to come to terms with no longer being a regular having moved up to second place on the club’s all-time list of appearance makers last season and of his desire to break back into boss Gary Rowett’s starting line-up.
He said: “It’s been tough, it’s been very tough.
“Obviously, I’ve said in interviews before I was injured in pre-season so I started behind Damo (McCrory) and he’s done ever so well, he’s come more into it and he’s doing even better now.
“Then I got injured again and, I don’t know, it’s just tough to keep going, but it’s a long season — we play 50-odd games.
“I didn’t play the first 20, but I’ve just come in from the dark and you’ve just got to be professional, keep your head down.
“Despite the injuries and not getting in the team, you’ve still got to have that glimmer of hope of being involved again.
“With circumstances, I’ve been a bit lucky to get an opportunity and I think I’ve taken it — just hopefully I’ll keep my place for next week.”
Speaking about suddenly finding himself on the sidelines after so many seasons of being a regular, Webster said: “I’ve had talks with Gaz (Rowett) when I’ve been injured and when I’ve not been in favour, and I’ve said that I find it weird just watching on the side.
“I’m used to playing every single game — Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday — being involved all the time.
“I’ve not had a consecutive run on the bench for years and it’s not nice really — just watching the team what you’ve played for and you love, where you’ve been for years and years.
“You’ve just got to keep hope basically and days like today, fortunately I’ve got a chance.”
Webster’s three starts this season have been in three different cup competitions and his latest came as a result of Zander Diamond being suspended due to his sending off at Wycombe Wanderers the previous weekend and fellow central defender Nathan Stanton going down with illness.
Both will be available on Sunday, but Webster is hoping to retain his place having overcome his latest injury — a hamstring problem — to return to the first-team fold.
“It was my first game in a long while — I think the last game in the first team was against Bradford in the (Capital One) cup,” said Webster.
“That was about two months ago and I’ve had a bit of a problem with fitness since then with a hamstring injury and a calf injury.
“I had a reserve game in the week, came through it and, with the circumstances at the minute, I wouldn’t have played today, but with Nathan Stanton coming down ill and obviously Zander getting sent off last week and being suspended, I’ve had to be called on.
“I suppose that’s what you’ve gotta do in a big squad like this, even if you’ve not played for a while, you’ve just got to be ready to be called on just in case of suspensions or injuries.
“I’ve come in and I think I’ve done all right — got a clean sheet — and it’s another great victory for Burton Albion in the FA Cup. I’ve been a part of a few and it’s another great day.”
Webster partnered Marcus Holness in the centre of Albion’s defence against League One Crewe, keeping their second clean sheet of the season when playing alongside each other having done so at Coventry City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
His outing came after just one reserve team appearance since recovering from injury and he was delighted with his return to first-team action.
“I felt fine to be honest,” he said. “I felt fine in the reserve game — I played left-back in that and I was bombing on and tying to get a few goals, but it didn’t happen!
“Today was a different story. We’ve come up against a Crewe team who like to pass the ball, try and move you around, but our game plan was to not be moved round basically.
“I think I adjusted to that.
“Me and Marcus at centre-half were specifically told not to get sucked out of position, like Crewe can (do to you) — they pass it around really well — and we didn’t, we kept our shape really well, and with Lee Bell sat in front of us, I thought we looked quite solid.
“I think me and Marcus have done all right together.
“I think we’re a good partnership — I’m left footed, he’s right, we both can jump, we both can play and compete, and we’ve done all right again.
“We’ve got another clean sheet together, so hopefully we’ll get another chance together and get more clean sheets for us.”
At the end of the 2011/12 campaign, Webster would have had designs on Darren Stride’s club appearance record, but he admits that has been put to the back of his mind.
He said: “To be honest, I’ve not really thought about Stridey’s record.
“If I’d have played the first few games in the league, maybe it could have been in the back of my mind, but I’ve just had to concentrate on my rehab the last five or six weeks, just getting fit and just getting on the training ground amongst the lads and back on the pitch.
“Stridey’s record is a long shot at the minute.”