Brewers into the top three as Maghoma strikes to earn point and end poor away run
A RARE away point lifted Burton Albion into League Two's automatic promotion places for the first time at Oxford United's Kassam Stadium last night.
The Brewers broke a run of four away defeats and eight games without a draw thanks to Jacques Maghoma's 10th goal of the season, which cancelled out James Constable's opener for the home side.
It was a deserved point for the Brewers, who showed much more going forward than has often been the case in away games of late.
Oxford could probably claim to have shaded a relatively event-free first half.
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With Matt Paterson given a start up front alongside Calvin Zola, Burton dominated possession in the early exchanges before Oxford right-back Damian Batt drilled a low shot comfortably wide of Stuart Tomlinson's right-hand post from 25 yards in the eighth minute.
A tetchy battle was developing between Zola and Michael Duberry when the Brewers got forward and the former Premier League defender was spoken to by referee Andy Woolmer before Lee Bell fired a 10th-minute free kick well over the bar.
However, Duberry limped off after 22 minutes, to be replaced by Michael Raynes.
Robbie Weir tried his luck from 25 yards after 27 minutes but Oxford had the clearest chance of the half six minutes later.
Batt ghosted in at the far post to meet a fine curling cross from Adam Chapman from the left, volleying it from no more than six yards, but Tomlinson produced a brilliant reaction save to scoop the ball over the bar.
Raynes headed Chapman's corner over and Oxford threatened again when Tom Craddock turned Ian Sharps on the left, his shot from a tight angle flicking off the Burton centre-half on its way across goal and out for a corner.
The Brewers had a couple of corners towards the end of the half and Maghoma had a sight of goal in the last minute, riding a couple of challenges in midfield before shooting low and wide from 22 yards.
It was looking like the sort of game one goal would win as both sides began the second half by giving the ball away repeatedly.
However, Oxford took the lead in the 51st minute from the first corner of the half.
It was drilled towards the near post by half-time substitute Tony Capaldi and headed in powerfully by Constable, who had completely evaded his marker.
Sharps needed a fine tackle to halt a run through the middle by Sean Rigg after 57 minutes and the Brewers were starting to look stretched as they fought to get back into the game.
They brought on Bill Kee for Zola after an hour and manager Gary Rowett's next throw of the dice was to send on Marcus Holness for Paterson and put centre-half Zander Diamond up front.
Remarkably, Burton equalised within 30 seconds.
Diamond was involved, finding Bell, whose diagonal cross was knocked down by Kee for Maghoma, who had plenty of time to turn and score from the penalty spot.
Burton finished the game strongly and even had two late chances to snatch a win in stoppage time.
Maghoma collected McCrory's ball forward and teed up Kee but he miscued his shot completely, then Diamond's chipped shot curled a foot wide of Max Crocombe's right-hand post.