'Proud' is a word that cannot be used to describe the feeling of Burton Albion players, fans and staff too often during their recent run of Championship results.

Saturday's 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa, though, was certainly one game where pride was in abundance.

There can be no shame in losing to the promotion-chasing Villans who, as Brewers boss Nigel Clough pointed out, had two international captains in Glenn Whelan and Mile Jedinak sitting on the bench.

But the manner in which Albion conducted themselves, through a willingness to play fast, high-tempo football and by finding the spirit to try to drag themselves back into the game twice, spoke volumes of the character of the team only four days after they had hit "rock-bottom" in losing 3-1 at home to Reading.

Burton should hold their heads high despite losing to Villa
Burton should hold their heads high despite losing to Villa

That response bodes well for the rest of the season if Albion are to escape the drop down to League One - and Clough hopes it instilled renewed belief in the Brewers fans too.

"It might be the last time we get the chance to come to Villa Park," Clough said of one of the many reasons why his side upped their game.

"I hope it's not, but it might be.

Ahmed Elmohamady is put under pressure by Tom Flanagan and Lucas Akins
Ahmed Elmohamady is put under pressure by Tom Flanagan and Lucas Akins

"So at least we go away and despite it being another defeat, the feeling is completely different to the other night - and I hope it is for the supporters.

"All we want to do is try to make the supporters proud, which we didn't do the other night and we haven't done in recent games, and make people proud of their team.

"The chairman and everybody - and I think they can be today."

If there is such a way to lose matches, going down fighting is Clough's preferred choice.

Jacob Davenport skips away from Conor Hourihane
Jacob Davenport skips away from Conor Hourihane

The recent defeats to Reading, Fulham and QPR showed little evidence of Burton willing to scrap for a result.

But Saturday offered renewed hope, from Jacob Davenport's immense debut in midfield, to Liam Boyce's comeback appearance and goal.

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Albion tried to play their way back into the contest, and that was the most pleasing aspect of Saturday's defeat.

"It's completely different," Clough said of the contrasting emotions in the squad from previous outings.

"We know, in the Championship, we are going to lose games and we've lost far too many.

"But if you're going to lose a game, lose it like that today - don't lose it like we did the other day, or at Fulham, or the one before that against QPR.

"Lose it like we did today. You go down fighting and you go down playing football."