Opposition view: Burton Albion have added new creativity to rock-solid defence

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There may be a few Mansfield fans who raise an eyebrow at this comment but, despite reaching the play-off final last season, much of the Brewers contingent was left swathed in disillusion.

Put simply, we played ugly football. Or, as it’s widely nicknamed, “hoofball”. A results business it is – and Gary Rowett deserves enormous credit for his consistent success – but as a fan coughing up good money to be entertained (entertained being the operative word), I would’ve probably garnered more fun from watching paint dry.

We mounted our promotion charge on an immovable defensive rearguard, of which we could have no complaints.

However, our fortunes up the other end were quite the opposite, with only a pitiful 47 goals being converted.

To our relief (particularly mine, after persisting with an Albion season ticket), Rowett made his summer objective to introduce a new, “more intricate” style of football to the Pirelli Stadium. Hallelujah.

Our pre-campaign signings impressed with John Mousinho, Lucas Akins, Stuart Beavon, George Taft and Jon McLaughlan all coming through the entrance door.

Defensive stalwart Shane Cansdell-Sheriff was retained permanently, with Callum McFadzean returning on loan as well as front man Jacob Blyth being borrowed from Leicester on Wednesday.

We needed a mini-overhaul – and that we got. The acquisitions have bolstered the squad significantly.

Beavon is clearly far too good for League Two and possesses the most majestic of first touches, accompanied by lightning pace. Akins is a gangly winger/forward who can only be described as a hybrid of Calvin Zola and Paolo Wanchope, if you can picture that. Those are two to watch.

Ultimately, we know that if we can manage to find the net a little more, whilst not letting up on the defensive solidity, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

Our start to this term has been solid, dependable, and at times heroic, with five wins and one draw from our first six outings. Our League Cup exploits have stolen all the headlines, with Championship Wigan Athletic and Premier League Queens Park Rangers both being put to the sword by the Brewers.

I’m fully expecting to be given a tough ride by the Stags and my worry is that we won’t churn out half the performance of our sensational giant killing on Wednesday versus QPR. We’ll see!

One last note... our home-grown youngsters are currently shining like never before. Keep your eyes peeled for our tricky little 18-year-old wideman Marcus Harness. He’s a bit of an unknown quantity at present, so not many managers will take precautions to stop him. The boy’s dynamite. If you’re reading this, Paul Cox, I lied.