Any hopes that Burton Albion had of completing a league and FA Trophy double this season were comprehensively dashed on Saturday as they crashed 4-0 at Stevenage Borough.
On a bitterly cold day, Albion came up short in a game that really was a game of two halves. With the wind behind them, first half Burton created numerous chances only to be denied by an inspired performance from Stevenage ‘keeper Chris Day. Day produced miraculous saves to deny Shaun Harrad and Jamie Yates. He was twice helped by the woodwork as the home side then struck a huge blow by taking the lead in the 31st minute. Mitchell Cole’s cross was misread by Andy Corbett, allowing Steve Morison to control the ball before firing past Kevin Poole.
However the Brewers never got going after the break and Stevenage quickly doubled their lead when Cole fired past Poole in the 52nd minute. Things went from bad to worse just after the hour mark when Morrison clipped the ball over the advancing Poole before the final goal came in stoppage time when David Bridges fired past Poole to complete a miserable afternoon.
Brewers boss Roy McFarland admitted afterwards,”I am pleased that today was not a league game based on that performance. I was very pleased with our first half performance when I thought we played well, but we just didn’t turn up for the second half and hence the reason why we conceded three goals after half time”.
Although the Burton boss made several changes to his starting line up including given both Lee Morris and Darren Stride starts in an attempt to build up match fitness he was disappointed with the manner of the defeat. McFarland added: “There were a lot of things that we didn’t do today that you would normally expect us to do and it has been costly for us in terms of the goals that we have conceded. Had we come away only losing two or three nil we might have said we were somewhat unfortunate, but by the finish we have lost quite convincingly?”
The result only becomes a problem if the performance transfers itself into the league and Albion quickly have the chance to address that this coming Thursday evening when they host Rushden & Diamonds in front of the Setanta TV cameras. The Brewers will be hoping to continue their 100 per cent record in front of a TV audience this season in what will be their fourth appearance to date. McFarland will be hoping that Keith Gilroy and Aaron Webster will be available again after injury to give him a full squad to pick from. The Burton boss has managed to extend the loan of Rotherham winger Yates through to the end of the season, and is also hoping to sign a striker to bolster his options for the remainder of the season. Although the transfer window closed last Monday afternoon, his target is currently a free agent - meaning that he would be able to sign outside this period.