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16:25 29th December 2009

Brewers Get Opening Day Blues

Burton Albion suffered opening day heartache on their new adventure in the Football League as last seasons play-off finalists Shrewsbury Town showed no signs of a hangover at the Prostar Stadium.

Despite going down by a 3-1 scoreline the Brewers were more than competitive and for long periods of the second half looked likely to snatch an equaliser after last seasons leading scorer Greg Pearson had marked his appearance as a second half substitute with Albions first Football League goal.

The Brewers by that time though were 2-0 down after a mistake from Shane Redmond gifted Shrewsbury the opener after 11 minutes and it was keeper was at fault again at the end as a free kick crawled over the line as the on loan keeper failed to get enough on the ball to keep out a long range free kick.

On an historic day for the Brewers as they began life in Coca-Cola League 2, new Albion boss Paul Peschisolido gave debuts to all nine of his summer signings.

On loan goalkeeper Shane Redmond was entrusted with the goalkeeping shirt with an experienced back four ahead of him made up of former Derby County full backs Marc Edworthy and Paul Boertien with Guy Branston also given his debut alongside Ryan Austin, one of only two players from last seasons championship squad to start the game. John McGrath also retained his place with Jacques Maghoma preferred in the centre with Russell Penn and Jimmy Phillips on the flanks ready to supply the ammunition to the new look strike partnership of Richard Walker and Robin Shroot. The honour of leading out the Brewers in the Football League for the first time was handed to central defender Guy Branston.

A nervy start almost saw Albion in disarray from the kick off as the ball was played back and Shane Redmond had to come smartly off his line to clear but Albion soon settled with McGrath and Maghoma both getting in good early challenges.

As Albion began to look more positive in attack they found themselves behind in the 11th minute. Good build up play down the Shrews right played in Jake Robinson and almost from the bye line he managed to fire in a low shot that was too hot to handle for Redmond who could not keep it out at his near post.

The home side continued to pose the greater threat with the pace of Nathan Elder the main thing that the Shrews were looking to exploit in the early stages.

Albion had their first real sniff of goal in the 20th minute as a misunderstanding in the Shrews defence by Dean Holden let Richard Walker in but keeper Chris Neal was out quickly to palm away from the feet of the ex-Bristol striker and he was instrumental again a minute later crossing into the middle after breaking the offside trap but his pass just eluded Robin Shroot in the middle.

Despite some more promising play from Albion it was a game of few chances although Dave Hibbert maybe should have done better when a swinging cross came through to him but bounced just too high and off him into the grateful arms of Redmond.

Jimmy Phillips almost grabbed a moment of glory on the half hour with a neat touch to take him away from his marker but from just inside the D he spectacularly volleyed over the crossbar and there was a spectacular save at the other end within a minute as Redmond had to be at full stretch to keep out a header from Hibbert from beyond the back post.

Things continued to look promising for Albion with hesitancy in the Shrews defence as Maghoma surged through and squared for Shroot but Chris Neal got a hand to the ball and when Shroot put the ball back into the box, Phillips was closer with his shot but still over the bar.

Albion finished the first half on the attack and John McGraths speculative shot almost got Albion ack on level terms with Richard Walker only inches away from diverting it past Neal and with the final attempt of the half, Maghoma curled a free kick over the defensive wall but into the waiting arms of Neal.

The Brewers were straight onto the front foot at the start of the second half and Ryan Austins thunderbolt free kick into the defensive wall allowed Albion to stay on the attack and Russell Penn will probably wish he had taken an early shot before playing the ball too far in front of Maghoma and it proved costly as Shrewsbury ruthlessly doubled their advantage in the 49th minute. The sweet left foot of Kevin McIntyre put the ball into the middle and Dave Hibbert was never going to miss with a powerful header at the near post.

Both sides made a substitution just before the hour mark. Hibbert, the goalscorer was replaced by managers son Jake Simpson and significantly Greg Pearson was introduced for Robin Shroot and just as he did at Salisbury on opening day last season Pearson opened his account within minutes latching onto a little through ball before drilling a low shot beyond Neal and almost on fire he forced Neal to tip over a teasing cross after exploiting space down the left side of Shrewsburys defence.

With the wind in their sails Albion had the ball in the back of the net again in the 71st minute but an assistants offside flag had long ruled that Richard Walkers close range effort would not count.

Darren Stride got his long awaited first Football League appearance with ten minutes remaining after coming on for Jimmy Phillips and he was immediately given an advanced role but his first duites were to defend a dangerous free kick and there was nothing he could do as Joss Labadies free kick squirmed through Redmonds hands and crept over the line and to add insult to injury Branston picked up the first yellow card of the game for a messy challenge that led to the original free kick. In truth the goal was a sickener for Albion who had looked the livelier side for most of the second half.

Redmond made sure it was not to be four with two fine saves from long distance efforts fired in by Paul Murray in stoppage time but despite the result Albion can take heart from an encouraging performance against one of the sides expected to challenge for promotion this season.

Albion man of the match: Ryan Austin - on his Football League debut the long serving Albion defender enjoyed a fine baptism in League 2.

    Data provided by Press Association


    Burton Albion moved into the £7million Pirelli Stadium in 2005