Burton Albion FC meeting the opposition.

Burton Albion FC meeting the opposition.

Tranmere Rovers, winless in their last seven games, travel to Burton Albion on Tuesday night as they aim to progress to the next round of The Papa John’s Trophy. 

It will be interesting to see what Micky Mellon’s selection will be as for many struggling players a rest will be needed and an experiment of what some can do may provide future opportunities.

Amongst those will be forwards Arthur Lomax and Jake Burton.

Burton are currently positioned 22nd in League One and ahead of the game on Tuesday night, I spoke to supporter Edward Walker who is the host of the D3D4 Football Podcast. 

This summer, thirteen players joined The Albion on either a permanent or temporary basis including former Oldham attacker Davis Keillor-Dunn and former Watford defender Adrian Mariappa. What are your thoughts on the summer window and which positions would you like to have strengthened in January?

The summer window was a mixed bag. I was very excited about the signing of Davis Keillor-Dunn and a new contract for Joe Powell in particular, but always felt hesitant that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink would be able to get the best out of them. 

Some signings have clearly not worked out, the most notable being Quevin Castro who joined on loan from West Bromwich Albion, and was recalled before the end of the window. He is now at Notts County.

The biggest frustration came on deadline day though. Striker Gassan Ahadme, who had enjoyed a strong start to the season, was sold to Ipswich Town, and the following day Louis Moult was sent out on loan to Motherwell. It left Burton with a single senior striker in Victor Adeboyejo who up till then had never had a productive season in senior football. Things looked bleak and that bad hand dealt to Dino Maamria has partly contributed to the situation Burton Albion find themselves in.

Albion manager Dino Maamria, who was appointed in September, was assistant under former gaffer Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink. What were your thoughts on Maamria’s appointment and Hasselbaink’s resignation? What is Maamria’s relationship with fans like and how would you describe his playing style?

Maamria was the logical successor when Hasselbaink resigned. Already in the building, prior experience in the main role, often taking on jobs which required him to secure survival for this team. He wasn’t my first choice admittedly, I’d have liked to get a new, upcoming coach in from Non-League, but it became abundantly clear very quickly that Dino wanted the gig and intended to fully commit to it. He’s never actually been officially confirmed as permanent manager, but we all consider him to be it.

Straight from the off, Maamria’s focus was on restoring the connection between the fans and the players. He is focused on maintaining the high spirit at Burton Albion which has allowed the club to achieve what it has over the last decade or so. He has got the players believing in their own ability again, and always ensures that he and his staff appreciate the supporters who travel both home and away. It’s all subtle things that you would expect from any football team, but they are things that weren’t here previously and it does make a difference. The support for him is undoubtedly there.

In terms of playing style, Burton Albion are primarily a direct side. Diagonals from centre-back Sam Hughes and deep midfielder Terry Taylor are common. Dino has made efforts to get Burton more proactive in possession however. If the opportunity comes to get the ball down and run at an opponent 1v1, he will look to do that.

Burton Albion for the last few seasons have had a huge set-piece threat, and this season it’s the biggest in all of League One. Right-back Tom Hamer provides a long throw that is sent into the box and targets a flick-on. Midfielder Terry Taylor sends the ball deep into the box from free-kicks or corners. On throws especially, Burton can end up boxing their opponents into their own third as they look to hold the attack back.

Ben Robinson is the chairman of Burton, he returned to the club in 1995 following his previous spell between 1976-86. What are your thoughts on Robinson and what would you like to change around the club, if anything, if you could change it?

Ben Robinson is one of the best chairman in the EFL. It’s all because of him that Burton Albion have been able to reach the Football League, climb up to Championship level, move from Eton Park to the Pirelli Stadium, and all whilst making sure that the club never falls into financial peril. He is exactly what you want a chairman to be. Passionate about progress but never taking the risk by breaking the bank to achieve his targets. Burton have been one of the shining lights to non-league clubs about what can be achieved through sound financial sustainability. 

It will be a strange feeling when his time with the club does finally come to an end, and I certainly will feel uneasy at first about who comes in after him.

24-year-old Nigerian Victor Adeboyejo is top scorer this season with eight goals and two assists in twenty games. With the game against Tranmere coming in the Papa Johns Trophy, do you think we’ll see a number of different Burton players starting? If so, who are you looking forward to seeing?

Burton wrap up November with home cup games, facing Tranmere on Tuesday and then Chippenham Town in the Second Round of the FA Cup on Sunday. I’m sure that Dino Maamria will want to progress from both games and will set out an eleven that should have enough to do so. I am curious which of the two will have the stronger XI if there is rotation. Sunday presents what on paper is the easier opponent, though there is a bigger potential financial reward for making Round 3 of the FA Cup than Round 3 of the EFL Trophy.

I think Burton’s starting eleven could be similar to the one that played Plymouth Argyle on Saturday, and I expect Victor Adeboyejo to be among the starters.

A man to have played for both clubs is Rovers striker Kane Hemmings. How would you describe his time at the Pirelli Stadium? 

Kane Hemmings was very popular during his time at Burton, his hometown club, and people were disappointed to see him move on. His only full season here was in 2020-21, a season Burton spent almost all of firmly in a relegation battle, and he got 15 league goals. It’s the best single-season return we’ve had from a player for nearly a decade. He carried that into the next season and his last Burton goal before joining Tranmere was a cracker against Crewe Alexandra.

We all know and appreciate what his game is about, the guy is an excellent poacher who has a great level of anticipation to balls coming into the box.

With The Brewers currently positioned 23rd, how important will it be to stay in League One? How significant do you think the club should view the Papa Johns Trophy? 

Survival is the target this season, and with a six-point gap to 20th there is plenty of work to do and plenty of time to do it. Maamria has been able to bring in free agents like Adrian Mariappa, Sam Winnall and Mustapha Carayol to add to what was already in the squad, but their fitness cannot always be relied upon. 

The Papa John’s is historically a tournament Burton have never done well in, this is the first time they’ve progressed beyond the first round they have entered. I would personally like to see Burton go far this season because it is a competition designed for clubs at Burton and Tranmere level to go all the way and win. They might get a bigger reputation from the league or FA Cup, but Wembley is a realistic thought here and I would welcome the chance for that if it came.

Score prediction for Tuesday night’s game? The last time the two club’s met was Boxing Day 2019, Burton won 4-2 in League One. 

I would probably feel different about this game if it was happening a month or so earlier. Tranmere seem to have gone very flat under Mickey Mellon and I know there are doubts creeping in about whether change could be needed to get the season back on track.

Burton played a fellow League 2 side in Bradford last time and was very professional at the Pirelli. If the team is strong again, I would hope for a similarly positive result.

I will go with Burton Albion 2-Tranmere Rovers 0

What are your thoughts on Tranmere as a club? If you have been keeping an eye on them do you think they will be returning to League One come the end of the season?

I have a lot of time for Tranmere Rovers as a club. Similar to Burton, they find themselves having to compete with much larger teams in the same region for fanbases. I think Tranmere do great work to appeal to those in the Merseyside area though. Prenton Park is a seriously underrated football ground, I love experiencing the Kop everytime I go and the Super White Army are in great voice at both home and away games.

A month or so back, I would have felt confident about Tranmere powering towards the top of the table. That back four of Bristow, Turnbull, Simeu and Dacres-Cogley looked near unbeatable. It’s gone flat since though, and those recent red cards for Turnbull and Simeu aren’t ideal either.

Will Tranmere be in League One next year? No idea, the League Two promotion race is always crazy. They have work to do though…

The Pirelli Stadium, home of Burton Albion. 

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