Burton Albion midfielder Joe Sbarra was up for the test the Brewers faced in their 2-2 draw with Matlock Town on Saturday - and he acknowledges how playing with familiar faces helps him settle into the game.

Sbarra and fellow Albion academy graduate Marcus Dinanga were on target in the draw at Causeway Lane, the Brewers' fifth pre-season friendly of the summer, following Friday night's 3-0 loss at AFC Wimbledon.

The 18-year-old will be approaching his first full season as a pro once the 2017/18 campaign starts after signing his first contract with the club last October. He has gone from strength-to-strength since.

Sbarra has seen plenty of match action in the Brewers' friendly programme this summer, starting four of their five matches - and he managed to get off the mark in front of goal against the Gladiators.

Joe Sbarra in action for Burton Albion
Joe Sbarra in action for Burton Albion

The midfielder latched onto striker Dinanga's flick and saw his initial effort from inside the box parried straight back at him, finishing the rebound easily from close range despite the efforts of Matlock goalkeeper Phil Barnes.

It is hopefully the first of many for Sbarra over the next 12 months in a Burton shirt, although it wasn't enough to see off a stubborn Matlock side, whose physicality proved a real challenge for a relatively inexperienced Albion team.

Despite a first appearance of his second spell at Burton Albion for Jake Buxton, the Brewers were not able to fully overcome an impressive Gladiators side, with a quickfire double from the hosts coming after Sbarra's effort.

Former Matlock loan star Dinanga then levelled things up with a fierce strike as the game finished all square.

But it was a good afternoon for Sbarra, who seized the chance to play in his preferred position of central-attacking midfielder as Albion lined up in a 4-4-1-1, with Dinanga leading the line and Sbarra playing in behind the man.

"Yes, more in an attacking sense rather than withdrawn - but I'm happy to play wherever," Sbarra said when asked about an advanced role being his favourite position.

"It was good - it was a good test for me, playing just in behind the striker.

Joe Sbarra in action for Burton Albion
Joe Sbarra in action for Burton Albion

"That’s where I see myself playing, so it was a good test, especially against good opposition like Matlock - they were up for it.

"So it was good, especially when they changed formation in the second half - that made it harder, so it's just a challenge to get on the ball."

Sbarra also credited playing alongside familiar faces from his academy days with helping him to settle into the match, and also offered hope to Brewers fans that his experience with combining alongside Dinanga before would pay dividends in the future.

Tom Hammerton - who has been training with the first-team squad this summer after recovering from a broken leg last term - Luke Tandy, Reece Hutchinson and Jake Livesy all entered the fray in the second-half.

Jack Hallahan and Jayden Cotterill - who have also signed their first pro forms this summer - Ben Fox, Dinanga and the experienced Matt Palmer started the game to complete the academy contingent involved in Saturday's draw.

"It definitely does (help) because you're used to playing with them," Sbarra added.

"Especially the lads that came on, like Reece and Luke, because you've played with them last year.

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"They're fresh in your mind that you used to play with them, so it's nice.

"With Marcus as well, we did so successfully in my first year and his second year - we linked up well.

"So it was nice to get up front with him again."