Scrappy point but Brewers continue their unbeaten run after leveller
BATTLING point from a scrappy 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers was enough to lift Burton Albion up to fifth in League Two and extend their unbeaten run to eight games.
With Calvin Zola not fit to return to the team and midfielder Robbie Weir serving a one-match suspension, the Brewers lacked their usual drive and attacking focus.
But they still had returning striker Billy Kee to thank for a 50th-minute equaliser after Rovers had grabbed the lead on the half-hour mark through former Bristol City striker David Clarkson.
It was hardly sparkling fare to mark Albion's 150th game as a Football League club against opposition who have considerably more experience at this level.
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But it offered more evidence that the Brewers have the resilience and determination to battle back in games.
Kee was restored to the starting line-up in place of Matt Paterson and Weir was replaced in the starting line-up by Jack Dyer.
Cleveland Taylor also earned a recall, in place of loan signing Luke Rooney, on the right hand side of midfield.
Rovers had the better of a tight opening to the contest and Burton were reminded that they needed to keep an eye on German winger Fabian Broghammer as he found time and space to fire in a low cross from the left that had to be hacked away from danger by Damien McCrory inside his own six-yard box.
Burton's best early chances came from set pieces, with McCrory picking out Zander Diamond for a header that went just wide of the post and Jacques Maghoma seeing an effort from a tight angle deflected out after Anthony O'Connor had launched the ball into the penalty area.
The Brewers continued to improve after a sluggish start and Maghoma was at the heart of a surging break through the centre of midfield that ended with a slide rule pass to Kee, who was thwarted at the near post by Fulham loan keeper Neil Etheridge.
After spurning a good chance at one end, the Brewers conceded a soft goal almost immediately at the other.
Left-back Jim Paterson launched a hopeful ball into Burton's penalty area, aimed at young striker Tom Eaves.
The Bolton loanee drew challenges from Diamond and Rob Kiernan and, as all three came back down to earth, the ball landed at the feet of David Clarkson, who gratefully accepted the open invitiation to fire inside the post from just inside the box.
Justin Richards went closest for the Brewers as the first half petered out, a quickly taken free kick from Jack Dyer finding the ex-Rovers striker on the edge of the box and his shot on the turn did not miss the angle of post and crossbar by much.
The early stages of the second half almost saw Burton fall two goals behind and they had keeper Stuart Tomlinson to thank for keeping the score down.
Eaves found midfielder Ollie Norburn just outside the box and he thought he had scored until Tomlinson leapt low to his right to beat the ball away.
The danger was not over as the loose ball found its way to Broghammer and he was also foiled by Burton's keeper, who stood tall to deny him.
It kicked Albion into gear and they were level in the 50th minute. Anthony O'Connor was sent sprawling on the right and when Lee Bell curled in the free kick, all the attention was on the presence of Diamond and Kiernan as they made their runs, with Billy Kee able to take advantage and glance home a close-range header from inside the six yard box.
The visitors pushed forwards and young striker Eliot Richards picked up a yellow card for diving when a poor touch let him down inside the box and he went to ground in an effort to win a penalty.
Kee also fell foul of referee Jeremy Simpson when he went down on the edge of the box and followed his counterpart into the book.
Cleveland Taylor squandered a good chance with 20 minutes to go when he burst through from the halfway line only to lash a left-foot shot well wide before Burton had shouts for a penalty turned down when Kee's pass had Taylor scampering into the box only to be seemingly bundled over.
Burton threw on Adi Yussuf and Paterson towards the end but to little effect as neither side could fashion a winner.