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‘We’re not over the hill yet’, says Ian Sharps, after hitting 50 not out for Burton Albion

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 31, 2014

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IAN Sharps played his 50th league game for Burton Albion on Saturday and hopes that by the time he plays his 60th, the Brewers are playing in League One.

The experienced centre-half celebrated his half-century with another clean sheet – his 16th of the season – as Albion were held 0-0 by promotion rivals York City at Bootham Crescent.

Sharps and co have six games left this season, with potentially three more should they reach the League Two play-offs, meaning it will be a new season by the time Sharps hits 60.

“I just go out there week in, week out and try and be as consistent as I can,” said the 33-year-old.

“I’ve enjoyed my time immensely, and hopefully there’s better times to come at the end of the season.

“The aim for the season was to progress on what we did last year.

“I don’t know how many points we got last year but I’m sure we’re on the mark for it.”

In fact, Albion have 64 points so far this season, 12 shy of last season’s total of 76, but with another 18 still up for grabs.

And based on Saturday’s performance, they could certainly achieve their aim, as they dominated the in-form Minstermen, registering 11 shots to their hosts’ six, and six on target to York’s solitary effort.

“We put a lot of hard work in, and I feel we set up a benchmark,” said Sharps.

“York are a good side, but so are we.

“We know where our strengths lie and we try to play to them, but we probably didn’t do that enough and that’s why we’ve not won.

“We came here for three points, and we’re disappointed we didn’t get them.”

The one attempt on target which York mustered came early in the first half, when Sharps’ centre-back partner Shane Cansdell-Sherriff fluffed a backpass to Rob Lainton, and home striker Michael Coulson rounded the keeper, only to be denied by Lee Bell’s goal-saving block.

“I was running back thinking ‘please don’t score, please don’t score’, but the lads got back well,” said Sharps, who was pleased with the way his team otherwise limited their opponents, while insisting they never gave up on the win until the final minute.

“I don’t think they had many chances and I’m happy with the clean sheet.

“All the players gave 100 per cent on both sides, and no quarter was asked nor given. Maybe the skill factor is not the best in League Two, but endeavour and commitment is up there.

“Playing against the wind, I thought we handled it well. We won the first header, which was important, and we always looked good going forward.

“We always go for the win.

“We got a throw-in with 40 second to go and I said to Belly, ‘let’s take the point now and be careful we don’t lose’ – but that was with 40 seconds to go.

“Before that, we were all-out attack, we made subs to try and win the game, which is what we try and do every week.”

Sharps has only just returned from injury, and admitted the game took it out of him, though it did not show in another imperious display, which could have been capped with a goal had his neat flicked header from a training ground corner routine not been saved by man-of-the-match Nick Pope.

“We’d been practicing that all week in training, and I hadn’t connected with a good one, but I did today and their keeper was stood in the right place,” said Sharps.

“It was a fast-tempo game and our legs were feeling it at the end.

“I tired towards the end – two games in four days is not exactly what my calf needed - but I got through it and I’ll kick on now for next Saturday.”

Sharps arrived in Burton on loan last year before making his transfer permanent in the summer, and was impressed with two Brewers loanees at York.

“I thought Callum (McFadzean) had a good game today, and Ash (new signing Ashley Hemmings)– when he came on – looked dangerous,” said Sharps, who also highlighted the importance of the whole squad for Albion’s run-in.

“Subs make a difference and we’ve got 20 lads who can play first-team football here,” he said.

“The gaffer knows that and the subs can change games sometimes.”

Of Hemmings, who joined on loan from Walsall last week, Sharps revealed he had inside information on the young winger’s potential.

“He only came in on Friday, so the gaffer didn’t want to put him in too quickly, but he looks lively, skilful,” said the defender.

“My mate on the coaching staff at Walsall speaks highly of him, he said he’s very good going forward.

“He should be something to look forward to for the rest of the season.”

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