Billy Kee crushes a revival from Rochdale as Burton Albion clinch victory with a sparkling show
BURTON Albion completed their first League Two double of the season, throwing away a two-goal lead at home to Rochdale before hitting back to effectively win the game a second time.
The Brewers were excellent in attack, with Billy Kee and Calvin Zola sharing the goals, although it was winger Jacques Maghoma who tormented Rochdale the most with his sparkling dribbling in an outstanding display.
Although the first half was littered with free kicks, it was also full of action.
Maghoma again looked in the mood from the start and, after swapping one-twos with both Lee Bell and Zola as he worked his way across the edge of the penalty area in the sixth minute, he drew a flying save from Josh Lillis in the Rochdale goal.
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Maghoma then fired a free kick yards over the bar and had another shot on the turn blocked as Burton pressed.
When Robbie Weir was tripped 20 yards out after Maghoma had won a corner, the Brewers went ahead in the 15th minute.
Kee's free kick was low and not especially well hit but the Rochdale wall evaporated and Lillis had no chance as the shot beat him to his left.
A brilliant double save from Dean Lyness kept Burton in front three minutes later.
Bobby Grant's corner on the right came back to him and when he laid it across the box, Andrew Tutte's shot was heading for the top corner before Lyness pushed it on to the bar.
He then recovered to turn away Ryan Edwards' headed follow-up low to his right.
Dele Adebola headed over as Rochdale had a spell of pressure but Burton made it 2-0 with a lovely goal after 25 minutes.
Zola controlled Lyness's long clearance and laid it off for Kee, whose instant backheel sent his tall strike partner clear to slot the ball past Lillis from 12 yards.
The Brewers were generally on top after that but Rochdale got back into the game with a terrific strike from Peter Cavanagh three minutes before half-time.
Zander Diamond headed a free kick from the right towards the edge of the box and Cavanagh met it with a ferocious volley which Lyness touched but could not keep out of his top right-hand corner.
The visitors finished the half strongly and Maghoma threw himself into a block to keep out a volley from Jason Kennedy a minute before the break.
Now the game was there for either side to win and it was crucial which side would start the second half strongest.
Maghoma had the first chance, collecting a ball rolled to him by Kee on the left and seeing his shot whistle into the side-netting after 47 minutes.
Maghoma raced 50 yards out of defence a minute later before picking out Weir but his shot went straight at Lillis.
It was Maghoma again, seconds later, who charged forward, picking out Dyer on the right, and Zola's spectacular bicycle kick from the cross sent the ball narrowly wide.
However, a bad error by Nathan Stanton handed Rochdale a 54th-minute equaliser.
He dallied on the ball 30 yards out before playing a woeful backpass, leaving Lyness no chance as Grant nipped in to slip the ball around the keeper and score into an unguarded net.
Two minutes later, Burton were back in front.
After a sustained attack, Bell chipped the ball forward, Zola controlled it superbly and crossed for Kee to dive and chest the ball over the line from four yards.
Zola was inches away from another in the 61st minute, slipping his shot wide after another lovely piece of control in the box.
He was also wide with a booming header from Dyer's free kick on the right after 63 minutes as the action did not let up.
Kee was the next to miss with a bicycle kick, as he connected with Diamond's header across the box.
Back came Rochdale and Lyness had to beat away Ashley Grimes' shot from a tight angle in the 71st minute.
Burton needed to weather a bit of a storm now, with Rochdale committing men forward, though as the visitors began to run out of steam, Zola was inches away with a shot from the edge of the box.
It was still a tense finish, however, and Jason Kennedy's deflection from a cross from the right brought a save to his right from Lyness, who also got behind a shot from Grant in the 89th minute.
Nonetheless, Burton were seeing the game out with more assurance than has often been the case and Rochdale did not threaten again in stoppage time.