A first ever season in the Championship is at stake for Burton when they face Doncaster.
When you’re chasing promotion and your destiny goes down to the final day, there’s nothing wrong with being nervous - at least not when you’re a club as humble as Burton. A first-ever season in the Championship awaits the Brewers at the end of their first-ever season in League One, providing they can avoid defeat against all-but-relegated Doncaster.
And whereas most clubs have a duty to say and do the right things in the build-up to such an important fixture, when any hint of mental weakness can have a counter-productive effect by catching hold of supporters in a way that might snowball, there’s a charming bout of butterflies emanating from St George’s Park and the Pirelli dressing room.
Burton are on the brink of something extraordinary and they will be forgiven if they come up short. So the focus remains on this being a wonderful opportunity rather than any fear that a promising season could yet go up in smoke. Sat on a three-point cushion with Walsall needing a goal difference swing to boot, the worry is disproportionate to the probability of the Brewers actually missing out.
Besides, Burton have had their wobble, failing to win six successive games between March 26 and April 19, although they were up against most of the form teams the division during that spell. Defeats came on the road at Millwall and Scunthorpe, while Wigan and Barnsley were held at home.
However, they head into this clash on the back of two wins, each reaffirming in their own way. First Colchester were put to the sword by three unanswered goals, then character was required to edge out a Gillingham side reacting fiercely to being dumped out of the top six, when a late Tom Naylor header from a set piece sparked delirious scenes.
The chances of Doncaster providing stiff opposition were reduced by some stinging remarks from Darren Ferguson in midweek. In a desperate attempt to distance himself from the club’s impending relegation, his assertion that the recruitment policy prior to his arrival was "absolutely horrendous" will hardly inspire his downtrodden troops to put in one last monumental shift on his behalf.
It’s clear that changes are afoot at the Keepmoat in the summer and the dye has already been cast on any player associated with the Paul Dickov regime. So the desire required to upset the odds and land victory at 7/2 might be in short supply, yet the players should perform with enough personal pride in front of the cameras to hold out for a point.
Nigel Clough isn’t one for throwing caution to the wind when it’s not really necessarily and Burton have played out six draws in the past 14 matches, three of them finishing 0-0. Take the stalemate at 13/5 and back it up with a bet on no goalscorer at 9/1. The longer it stays goalless, the more risk-averse Burton are likely to become.
Click here for more information about Mike Holden’s shot-based ratings system