A THRILLED Gary Rowett hailed the opening 30 minutes at Oxford United was among Burton Albion’s best football of the season.

Dominic Knowles and Zeli Ismail both scored and only a penalty save from Ryan Clarke, keeping out Billy Kee’s spot-kick, prevented the Brewers from making sure of the points before the half-hour mark.

It still paved the way for a 2-1 win which saw Burton improve their automatic promotion hopes, while damaging United’s.

Rowett, Burton’s manager, said: “I would say for half an hour that was as well as we have played.

“I thought we played with fantastic control and our attacking was very good.

“I have to be honest I felt we had the positions and opportunities to be 3-0 or 4-0 up in the first half.”

United hit back after the interval and scored through Ryan Williams.

They had chances to get something out of the game, but to Rowett’s delight Burton held on for the victory.

He said: “When the goal went in at 2-1, I said to Kev (Summerfield, assistant manager) ‘this is going to be the longest half we’ve probably had’, and it was.

“We had to ride our luck a little but and had to take one or two players out of the firing line.

“But we showed what character we’ve got. You have to say to come to a place like Oxford and to be so dominant for the first 40 minutes and effectively win the game in that period was fantastic.”