Burton Albion weren’t able to replicate the same fairy-tale cup run they experienced last season, as they were knocked out in the Round-of-16 of the Carabao Cup to Premier League outfit Leicester City.
The Foxes looked like a top-flight outfit too, with Jonny Evans, Wes Morgan Marc Albrighton, Youri Tielemans and Demarai Gray all included in Brendan Rodgers’ starting XI.
Not to mention that James Maddison – who might have had an England cap before pulling out of the squad through illness – came on as a late substitute and still managed to score.
Though, Burton played well and held themselves against a side currently competing for Champions League football. After an hour of action, Liam Boyce had reduced the deficit to just one and the Brewers had chances to level the score through Nathan Broadhead Oliver Sarkic.
That was all before Rodgers decided the game was too close for comfort and brought on the likes of Harvey Barnes, Maddison and Wilfred Ndidi who are all regular starters in the top division.
Those changes flattered Burton and should only be taken as a compliment. The home side clearly had the big boys worried in the second half at the Pirelli Stadium.
Speaking about the depth in quality of the Leicester side to the club website, Clough said: “We think their starting 11 was worth £100 million out there tonight so it’s very difficult when you have that quality against you, and you give them a goal in the first few minutes. But in the second half we gave them a game and we caused them problems. We got a goal back and had a real go at them.
“They had opportunities and situations inevitably but so did we as well.
“We are very proud of the effort we put in and we are disappointed to lose. We were in the game until the 88th minute when Kieran Wallace slipped, and that third goal has gone in and killed it.”
Then, Clough revealed that his League One side showed the former Premier League champions too much respect. He said: “We gave them too much respect in the first ten or 15 minutes. The speed and the quality of the attacks is what does it and what makes them top players and they can hurt you.
“It was something we talked about and said we couldn’t afford to do. You need to make it as uncomfortable as you can for them, and we did that for 75 minutes but not the whole game.
“But we hung in in there at 2-0 at half-time and then got a goal back and all of a sudden it’s a different game. Oliver Sarkic has had a wonderful opportunity and their keeper has made a brilliant save and that makes the difference. It was a near night for us with a lot of good performances and they know they have been in a game tonight.
“The crowd have enjoyed it and it was a very good cup tie.”
Burton are that type of team who are always going to be well-equipped for a cup run, as they have showcased over the last few seasons.
After a poor start to their League One campaign, it looks as though Clough has got the side back on track.
They should finish in at least the top six this season. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise if they’re the side to sneak into the last play-off place either.