The rebirth of Bostwick, one of the biggest stories in Burton’s progression
Burton Albion’s revival is full of individual successes but is there any to top off Michael Bostwick’s change of fortunes?
The great center-back has become a key man in recent weeks, leading the last four of a team that has won five of the last six games – they have won six of the last seven but he was not involved in the 1- win. 0. on the city of Hull.
Bostwick’s performance in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Peterborough United has arguably dominated the pack so far. He was in full “they won’t pass” mode against a club for which he made 228 of his 663 career appearances between 2012 and 2017.
Bostwick, with a header, kicked, blocked and tackled relentlessly and, with loaned young center-half Hayden Carter at his side, 23-goal Peterborough forward Jonson Clarke-Harris took to barely got a kick out.
It was a performance that deserved a clean sheet, slightly wasted when Posh scored in the 96th minute, too late to affect the result. Bostwick’s partnership with Carter is a pleasure to watch; the very experienced warrior and his young apprentice complement each other.
“We needed heroes, tough guys, and he was one of them,” Bostwick manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink said after the Peterborough game.
“His positioning was unparalleled, especially with crosses and he cleared a lot. What Carter gives us is that he’s fast. He’s young, he’s learning the game and Bostwick’s organization helps him a lot.
Just a few months ago, you wouldn’t have considered the partnership. At Christmas, Carter was still with his parent club, the Blackburn Rovers, and Bostwick was, frankly, in trouble. Enter Hasselbaink – and a twist of fate. Carter was his first signing, on loan for the remainder of the season.
Burton had conceded 50 goals before mid-season and strengthening the defense was Hasselbaink’s priority. The Dutchman’s first step was to do it with a largely inexperienced rookie from a championship club – but I think we’re learning to trust his instincts.
That Carter formed a partnership with Bostwick was less obvious. Bostwick has an enviable career record, similar to Lucas Akins, in terms of being fit and available every week, or at least he did until the last few years, when he suffered a few injuries.
He looked like a good signing for Jake Buxton this summer, a man who first played against Burton as a teenage midfielder for Crawley Town in 2006 on loan from his first club, Millwall. Later, he will play notably against the Brewers for Stevenage, where he was a teammate of Hasselbaink’s assistant, Dino Maamria.
Arriving at Burton from Lincoln City this summer, he started the first games as a midfielder in front of all four defenders but suffered an injury after 25 minutes of the 3-1 Carabao Cup loss to Aston Villa in September. After a month off he returned to Plymouth Aryle but only reached half-time before the injury recurred.
When he returned again, from the bench, it was in the hand-to-hand game at Hull City in November, when the Brewers had 12 players sidelined due to Covid-19.
He was in the squad for the 5-1 home loss to Oxford United just after Hasselbaink’s appointment and was not in the squad for Hasselbaink’s opener in charge, the 1-0 win at Gillingham, when Carter scored the only goal and was teamed up at the back by John-Joe O’Toole, who did well. The manager had worked with O’Toole for Northampton Town and assessed his aggression on the pitch, as long as it was under control.
So, O’Toole started Hasselbaink’s second game, at home against Ipswich Town and was injured after seven minutes, replaced by Bostwick. This is football. O’Toole is back in good shape now and finds Bostwick playing so well he can’t attend.
There was a goal for the big man at Northampton Town, when the Brewers won an indirect free kick inside the penalty area and he stuffed the ball into the net as Sean Clare rolled it towards him . You wouldn’t have wanted to be in the way.
Hasselbaink, with the usual frankness, admitted on Saturday that Bostwick’s return to the side was initially due to being the only other center-back in form. But Maamria’s influence – there is a lot of it, we realize – has been significant.
“We had no options. We knew we had to get him back in shape and on the pitch, ”said Hasselbaink. “Fortunately, Dino had worked with him before and he knows him by heart. It is helped. We need to know when he needs rest and when not.
“He’s not a spring chicken anymore, so we have to take care of him, like we do with John Brayford. We have to be smart with them because we need their experience on the ground. “
This is a telling observation as there are midweek games going on right now and Hasselbaink will be looking to manage his squad. He left Brayford against Charlton Athletic but had to take him off the bench later in the game and then opted to stay with the captain for last week’s midweek game against Bristol Rovers.
Can he afford to rest Bostwick against AFC Wimbledon tonight? It would be a difficult call. But whether or not it does, it’s now pretty clear that Bostwick has a big role to play for the rest of the season.
It is now turning out to be the signing we were hoping it would be this summer.
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