It shows a sign of the progress that Burton Albion have made over the last few seasons that they can view an extension of their unbeaten run to a Blue Square Premier Division’s season’s best 17 games, as a major disappointment.
However the 0-0 draw at Woking last Saturday almost felt like a loss as Roy McFarland’s side failed to make it eight consecutive away wins.
The Brewers went into the game having had a 10-day break since their victory over Wrexham. Yet despite being refreshed from their inactivity it was something that the Burton boss wished hadn’t happened as it took a while for his side to get going. The Kingfield pitch didn’t help as it was quite hard and both sets of players struggled to keep their feet.
McFarland said: “We tried to play football on a pitch that wasn’t conducive to good football. A number of players were slipping and didn’t know which studs to wear. That made it difficult and it just stopped us in our flow a little bit today.”
Marc Goodfellow saw the Woking ‘keeper Danny Knowles twice deny his long range efforts in the first half. But it was defender Jake Buxton who came closest to scoring in first half stoppage time, when he headed Goodfellow’s corner against the angle of bar and post from 10 yards.
Burton created more chances after the break with Shaun Harrad being denied by Knowles before Greg Pearson saw the follow up bravely blocked after the ‘keeper spilled the initial effort. Woking could have won it five minutes from time when debutant Micah Hyde headed wide of target from seven yards before Harrad was denied by a fine double save in stoppage time to ensure that Albion failed to score for only the second time this season.
With Histon not surprisingly winning at bottom club Lewes, the Brewers advantage was reduced to 13 points, but manager McFarland wasn’t too downbeat. He remarked: “We have come away with a point and now we have to move on. It is another game out of the way, another point picked up to add to our total and it just keeps us ticking over.”
The Woking game was the first of five away games in the next six fixtures and Albion will be hoping to return to the form they showed over Christmas and New Year in the victories at Mansfield and York as soon as possible.
This coming Saturday they face a difficult trip to Cambridge United, the scene of heartbreak last May when Rob Wolleaston’s cross eluded Kevin Poole to beat Burton 2-1 in the Blue Square play-off second leg. Cambridge had a hard fought 1-1 draw at home to Crawley on Saturday and faced a heavyweight local derby with Histon on Monday night.
The game at Cambridge sees a return for former manager McFarland and new Albion striker Martin Butler to their old ground. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Butler given his first start in Albion colours as Burton look to complete a league double over one of their promotion rivals. Lee Morris will serve the second match of his three game ban, but otherwise McFarland should have a full squad to choose from.
The following Wednesday (March 11) Burton return to Ebbsfleet to play their rearranged match that was snowed off last month. It could be a good time to be playing Liam Daish’s side as they will surely have one eye on the FA Trophy semi-final first leg the following Saturday.