Town 0-4 Burton Albion
By David Mitchell
Burton Albion exacted revenge on Fleetwood Town in a match that hinged on a debatable moment as keeper Scott Davies was sent off in the second half for bringing down Jacques Maghoma on the edge of the penalty area.
At that point Town were looking comfortable for at least a point to end a successful week but the flood gates opened and Albion ran out emphatic winners by 4-0.
Barry Nicholson returned to Town’s midfield for the first time since Morecambe, nine games ago while centre-back Kieran Charnock made the starting eleven for the first time this season. Junior Brown (hamstring) and Ryan Crowther (concussion)made way after sustaining their injuries on Tuesday at Oxford. Alan Goodall was at full back, Dean Howell in midfield – as they finished the Oxford game.
Burton manager Gary Rowett brought back Damien McCrory at left back and Ian Sharps in midfield. Both teams started in a 4-4-2 formation.
The first shot from either side came in the sixth minute when on-loan Michael Symes cut in and struck a left foot shot straight at Scott Davies. Three minutes later, David Ball showed neat foot work in the area, his shot directed into the hands of Stuart Tomlinson. Neither side dominated the early exchanges but Albion came closest to opening the scoring as Billy Kee found Alex MacDonald on the right. The midfielder’s shot glanced Davies’s far post. Town carved a chance in front of the Percy Ronson after 14th
minutes, Nicholson rising to meet Howell’s cross before heading comfortably over the bar.
Hesitation was almost Town’s undoing five minutes later but Jamie McGuire was upended by Kee and the danger passed. Charnock impeded Kee’s progress soon after, conceding a free kick within range in the 21st
minute. Maghoma struck a firm shot, winning a corner, and Charnock redeemed himself with a firm header out of defence.
Ball and Fontaine worked hard to create opportunities, their efforts recognised by the Cod Army in the 2698 crowd, but chances were proving difficult to manufacture. Ball was felled just outside the area by Anthony O’Connor in the 33rd
minute but Town’s rehearsed free kick move came to naught as Howell’s kick was charged down, the player unable to repeat his heroics which gave Town their first Football League victory, at Burton.
Town gained territorial advantage and saw more of the ball as the half progressed. Ball placed a tantalising cross from the right into the danger area and the home side gained three successive corners just before the 40th
minute. Their efforts were so nearly rewarded when Paul McKenna found Charnock on the back post. He headed across goal for skipper Atkinson whose own headed effort landed on the roof of the net.
Kee and Robbie Weir combined two minutes before the break as Town failed to clear their lines, the latter’s shot too high.
Two further efforts cleared the bar at the start of the second half. Howell’s from distance went over the Memorial Stand and Kee’s effort from closer struck the back of the Percy Ronson with a resounding bang. Howell did well to run on to a Fontaine pass before sending a swinging cross in from the left touchline, just too high for Nicholson.
McKenna, excellent up to that point, almost made a decisive slip after 53 minutes. Maghoma took advantage and Town’s defence threatened to yield before a smart save at the near post from Davies denied the visitors. Two minutes later came the game’s pivotal moment. Town gave away possession for a second time to Maghoma who jinked down the middle before meeting the advancing Davies. Maghoma fell on the edge of the area under the keeper’s challenge and referee Sutton made a double gesture which no Cod Army fan wanted to see, holding up the red card to Davies and pointing to the penalty spot.
Town’s goalkeeping coach, David Lucas, made his debut in place of Howell and within moments was picking the ball out of the goal as Maghoma placed it to his left for his 11th
goal of the season. A stunned Town pushed forward, Ball and McKenna linking down the left just after the hour. Alexander sent Anthony Barry on after 65 minutes, in place of McGuire. Burton threatened a second with man of the moment Maghoma combining with Weir. A Ball shot gave Tomlinson a comfortable save at his near post but Maghoma appeared to be everywhere and Burton began to expose the extra space in the final third as Town tried to get on terms. Jamille Matt replaced Nicholson but had barely touched the ball before Kee scored a second, his ninth of the season, in emphatic style in the 75th
minute. Lucas had no chance as the striker’s powerful shot thundered in via the crossbar.
Barry, set up by Matt, struck a firm shot just wide with eight minutes left but the numerical disadvantage and the effects of two long away games was going to make it difficult for Town to come back against a side with a reputation for resilience. Ball hit an almost carbon copy of his previous effort but Burton settled the match with four minutes left when substitute Zola fed Maghoma who ran on and placed the ball under Lucas and in at the far post. Maghoma returned the compliment in added time, Zola scoring his 13th
of the season. With only eleven goals away from home previously this season it had been a bonanza day on the road for Burton.
Davies, McLaughlin, Atkinson (captain), Charnock, Goodall, Nicholson (Matt 74), McGuire (Barry 65), McKenna, Howell (Lucas 56), Ball, Fontaine
SENT OFF: Davies