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Burton: A look at the League Cup’s unlikeliest semi-finalists

The League One side have Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest, Burnley and now Middlesbrough to reach the last four of the Carabao Cup.

Nigel Clough celebrates Burton’s win over Middlesbrough (Owen Humphreys/PA)
Nigel Clough celebrates Burton’s win over Middlesbrough (Owen Humphreys/PA)

League One Burton are into the semi-finals of the League Cup for the first time in their history after a 1-0 upset of Middlesbrough away from home on Tuesday night.

A semi-final against one of the Premier League’s big guns could follow in the new year for Nigel Clough’s side, who have already claimed several impressive scalps in the competition.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a closer look at the club.

Form

Burton’s victory over Middlesbrough was an upset in more ways than one. Quite apart from the difference between the two clubs – Burton who were only promoted into the Football League for the first time in 2009 and Middlesbrough who have designs on a return to the Premier League – there was little in Burton’s recent form to suggest they could trouble a side in the Championship’s top six away from home. They went into the match on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Fleetwood which had left them 15th in League One, seven points above the drop zone. But Albion have impressed in this competition, already sending out Aston Villa, Nottingham Forest and Burnley to make it this far.

Manager

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Nigel Clough returned to Burton after a spell in charge of Sheffield United (Nigel French/PA).

Nigel Clough reacted to Burton’s win by saying his father Brian would have been proud of the League One side’s progress to the last four in the competition. Proud of that and likely much more given the path his son Nigel has taken Burton on. Clough became player-manager at Burton all the way back in 1998 when they were still in the Premier Division of the Southern Football League and guided them into the Conference where they recorded some famous results, not least a 0-0 FA Cup draw against Manchester United. Burton were well on course for their eventual promotion into League Two when he left for Derby in 2009. Clough would also manage Sheffield United before returning to Burton in 2015, guiding them to runners-up spot in League One and promotion to the Championship. They would be relegated a year later, but Clough still has them punching above their weight.

Players

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On-loan Jake Hesketh’s goal knocked out Middlesbrough (Owen Humphreys/PA).

James Hesketh, on loan from Southampton, got the winner for Burton on Tuesday night, while young Chelsea goalkeeper Bradley Collins kept a clean sheet. But Clough has plenty of experienced campaigners in his squad too, including former Republic of Ireland international Stephen Quinn, ex-England youth players Marvin Sordell and Stephen Bywater, and Northern Ireland striker Liam Boyce.

Press Association

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