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Extending winning run not a top priority for Burton boss Clough
Monday, December 29, 2008, 08:30
THE winning run will reach double figures if Burton Albion can take three points from their Blue Square Premier visit to Mansfield Town tonight (7.45pm).
But against a Stags side enjoying a mini-revival under the caretaker-managership of former Derby County striker Mark Stallard and team-mate Adie Moses, Burton manager Nigel Clough admits he would be happy to take a point from the game.
If the Brewers do make it 10 wins in a row, they will be within one of equalling the Conference record, jointly held by Dagenham & Redbridge and Aldershot Town – although only Aldershot achieved it in their promotion season.
The positive omens are piling up, with the reminder that the teams going into January on top of the league have been promoted as champions for the last six seasons.
Even before their trip to Field Mill, a seven-point lead at this stage looks very healthy indeed for Burton, albeit that Histon have a game in hand.
%3Cbody%3E%3Cdiv%20id%3D%22adDiv%22%3E%3CA%20HREF%3D%22http%3A//ads.anm.co.uk/ADCLICK/CID%3D0000b1394b63c08d00000000/AAMSZ%3D452x118/SITE%3DTHISISDERB/AREA%3DSPORT/SUBAREA%3DHOME/ARTICLE%3D572885/acc_random%3D8643129734/pageid%3D/RS%3D10307.%22%20target%3D%22_new%22%3E%3CIMG%20SRC%3D%22http%3A//iad.anm.co.uk/house/1x1.gif%22%20ALT%3D%22Click%20here%21%22%20border%3D0%20style%3D%22margin-bottom%3A%200px%3B%22%3E%3C/A%3E%3C/div%3EBut the fact that the Brewers still have to play Torquay twice is a sharp reminder that nothing is settled.
"It's a good run to be on but it gets harder to stay on it with each game," said Clough.
"Even not losing at Farsley and winning on penalties in the FA Trophy helped and we saw the benefits against York (on Boxing Day) when we went one down.
"The response and the belief was there but, more than anything, team spirit and hard work.
"The main thing for us at Mansfield is to go there and stay unbeaten at the end of the evening."
The Burton boss is mindful of the job being done by Stallard and Moses while they wait for the Stags to sort out their new manager.
Meanwhile, Mansfield have won their last two games, 2-1 at home to Weymouth and, perhaps more significantly, 3-1 away to Kettering Town on Boxing Day.
"We've told the players to play with freedom," said Stallard (34), who was with the Rams from 1991-96 before a successful career in the lower divisions brought him more than 500 League and cup appearances and more than 150 goals.
"We have good players and we've been trying to convince them how good they are.
"If they believe in their own ability, they'll do better. And if they enjoy the game, they'll do better."
Stallard himself is out injured at the moment and extending his playing career will be a priority once the issue of a new manager to replace the sacked Billy McEwan is resolved.
"Whatever happens now is out of our hands," he added.
"All we can do is our best for the club and get the lads ready for the game. The chairman is keeping us informed but we don't know anything concrete yet.
"We will keep going about our business the right way in the meantime but, after that, I'd be delighted to get myself fit and back on the pitch."
Whatever the result tonight, the Brewers face another examination at York on New Year's Day, after being pushed all the way to beat the Minstermen 2-1 on Boxing Day.
But Clough hopes to have reinforcements in place by then as he seeks to consolidate the best chance of promotion to the Football League the Brewers have yet had.
"We have just got to get over the next few days and get to January when that transfer window opens," he said.
"We are trying to actually get people in for January 1, so that we can go up to York with a couple of fresh faces.
"We are waiting for answers back from players at the moment. The clubs have OK'd them, so it is down to the players themselves."
Mansfield v Burton Albion
Caretaker Mansfield bosses Adie Moses and Mark Stallard look set to name an unchanged side for the visit of Blue Square Premier leaders Burton.
The duo have led their side to victory in their past two outings and should stick with the same starting XI which beat Kettering 3-1 on Boxing Day.
Burton could have on-loan Derby youngster Paris Simmons available following his recovery from injury.
But skipper Darren Stride remains sidelined with a knee injury.
Latest | December 2008