Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink believes his players were rewarded for their hard work in training after Burton defeated Gillingham 1-0 on his return to the club after five years.
Debutant Hayden Carter ensured Hasselbaink’s second tenure as Burton boss got off to a dream start, meeting Joe Powell’s free-kick for the game’s only goal on 33 minutes.
Carter only joined the Brewers on loan from Blackburn on Wednesday, but his effort ended a run of eight league games without a win as the visitors held on for a vital three points.
Burton’s clean sheet at Priestfield was their first in 29 league games and Hasselbaink hopes the shut-out will provide Sky Bet League One’s bottom side with a platform to improve from.
“I’m very happy, even more so for my players who’ve worked ever so hard this week,” said Hasselbaink. “Their application was great in training.
“They took things on board and it was good to work with them. They were rewarded for their hard work today. We were really, really good in the first half. We could have been 2-0 up going in.
“In the last 25 minutes we were getting tired. We dropped too deep and let too many crosses come in the box. Gillingham were getting better and better, but we defended really well.
“Our goalkeeper (Ben Garratt) was immense. I’m delighted for the boys to go home with three points and with a smile on their faces. I cannot be happier for them.
“We need more clean sheets in future, but it’s the platform we want to work from.”
Garratt brilliantly denied Connor Ogilvie from heading an equaliser for the hosts 17 minutes from time and saved again to deny John Akinde in stoppage time.
And Gillingham assistant manager Paul Raynor said: “The last 30 minutes were good, but the first 45 were very disappointing. You’re not going to win three points if you’re only going to play for 30 minutes in a game.
“It’s the same as last week – we put a 45-minute performance in at Plymouth. We’ve got to put 90-minute performances in. If we can do that, and play like we did in the last 45 minutes last week and the final 30 minutes today, and then convert that into goals, we’ll win football matches.
“We can’t just play in fits and starts. The level of chances we missed in the second period is frightening. They were good chances, easy chances.
“We shouldn’t have left Burton with anything to hang on to – we shouldn’t concede from a basic set-piece. We were out of sorts during that first period.
“Once we got to grips with that, we changed the system and got a few more bodies into the box. We created opportunities but we didn’t take them.”