Behind Enemy Lines: Burton Albion

AFTER two tough away games, the Lions return to The Den hoping to pick up another home win. 

Last time out in Bermondsey they beat Birmingham 2-0, and will be confident of three points against a Burton side who are currently in the relegation zone with just two wins all season.

Tom Elliott made his first Championship start on Tuesday night and scored in the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, but it remains to be seen who will start up front on Saturday after both Steve Morison and Lee Gregory were on the bench at Hillsborough.

Only Bolton are below the Brewers in the table with boss Nigel Clough looking like he has his work cut out to keep them up for a second successive season.

Lucas Ball spoke to Brewers fan and BBC Radio Derby Match Summariser Tony Bentley this week.

Twitter: @BrewersTony

Why do you support Burton?

I used to work in Derby in an office full of Derby County fans. I got fed up of listening every week about how good the Rams were – they were in the Third Division at the time!

A friend asked me to go to watch (then-non-league) Burton in an FA Cup fourth qualifying round replay against Wycombe Wanderers in October 1984. Burton, who were managed at that time by Neil Warnock, won 2-1 and went on to reach the third round where they drew Leicester City at home.

The tie was switched to Derby County’s Baseball Ground. The Foxes were a Division One side (pre Premier League) and included both Gary Lineker and Alan Smith in their team.

The game will be remembered for the Burton ‘keeper being knocked out by a piece of a seat thrown by the Leicester fans when Burton equalised in reply to an early goal. Burton eventually lost the match 6-1, but after an appeal the game had to be replayed behind closed doors at Highfield Road, Coventry. Burton lost that match 1-0.

I got hooked and have been following them ever since.

What’s been your favourite season following your team?

It’s quite hard to pick just one season, because there have been so many good ones: watching the club win its first ever league title in 2001 – when they got promoted from the Unibond League to the Conference for the first time; and obviously getting promoted to the Football League as recently as 2009.

The League Two title-winning season of 2014-15 was fantastic as was securing back-to-back promotions the following season to reach the Championship.

Such a dream that I never imagined being possible when I started watching the club

What needs to change for Nigel Clough to get his side out of the relegation zone?

We’ve got to stop conceding so many goals. When you’re down near the bottom of the table a poor goal difference is worth an extra point to the teams above.

We’ve conceded four goals in three of the last four home games. If that continues then Burton will have no chance of surviving.

Burton have played a 3-5-2 for most games. It’s not working, so perhaps we’ll see changes in formation and personnel for the Millwall game. If the number of goals conceded is reduced then I’m sure goals for will also improve.

In terms of the first quarter of the season, was this expected?

No. Burton were dealt a massive blow a week before the season started, when their record signing, striker Liam Boyce, injured his ACL, and he could be out for the whole season. He’d been brought in to score goals, and Albion haven’t the financial resources to go out and buy another player of that calibre.

It’s also been a shock to see the massive improvement in teams since last season. I think the success of Huddersfield Town, in getting promoted on a smallish budget, has prompted many more teams to have a real go this season.

Coupled with big improvements in underachieving teams like Derby, Leeds and Wolves it makes it very tough for the smaller teams

Who will be Burton’s danger men on Saturday?

Lucas Akins has been performing consistently well in a variety of roles. One of the first names on the team sheet, Lucas has been with the club since their League Two days and has played as a striker, central midfielder and also a wing-back. Also Luke Murphy, in his second loan spell from Leeds, is a very accomplished central midfielder

Which of Neil Harris’ side do you believe you will have to pay most attention to?

Steve Morison has always caused Burton problems. I remember him scoring crucial goals against the Brewers in their Conference days when he was at Stevenage Borough. I also liked the look of Tom Elliott when he played against us for Cambridge United. He was probably the best striker we faced in the 2014-15 League Two-winning season.

What’s your predicted Burton line-up and formation?

I think we could see a big change in how Burton line up for this game. The 3-5-2 hasn’t been working so I’m going for several changes in a 4-2-3-1 formation:


Naylor McFadzean Turner Flanaghan

Murphy Allen

Scannell Lund Sordell


Finally, a score prediction?

Burton desperately need some sort of result ahead of the next International Break, so I’m going for Millwall 1-1 Burton.

Graphic: @ShedCreative