A bad tempered game at the Lamex saw Albion slip to their second successive League 2 defeat as Football league new boys Stevenage claimed all three points.
Eight yellow cards, one red and two penalties do not tell the whole story of a frustrating afternoon for the Brewers who drop to fifteenth in the npower League 2 table.
After a ppor first half Aaron Webster got Albion back into it three minutes into the second half but on loan striker Chris Holroyd sealed the win with a rare moment of quality.
Injuries and suspensions gave manager Paul Peschisolido few choices with his team selection for the visit to former Conference rivals Stevenage.
As expected former Derby County midfielder Adam Bolder returned to the centre of midfield with in-form Jacques Maghoma getting the nod to partner him in the centre. That left a gap on the right of midfield that was taken up by Stevenage born winger Lewis Young. Andy Corbett returned to the starting line-up having come on as a substitute for Darren Moore last week with Ryan Austin continuing in central defence alongside Nathan Stanton.
New loan signing James Collins was given a place on the bench having played ninety minutes for Aston Villa reserves on Thursday.
Stevenage were on the attack right from the first whistle and Stacy Long wasted no time in testing Adam Legzdins with a low shot after just fifteen seconds on the clock, the Albion stopper gathering the greasy ball at the second attempt.
Albion were forced into an early substitution as Paul Boertien suffered what appeared to be a recurrence of his calf injury and had to be replaced by Kevin Grocott.
Things looked as if they were going to get worse moments later when Scott Laird skipped away down the left and crossed into the middle where striker Chris Holroyd went down under a challenge from Ryan Austin to earn a penalty. The in form hitman stepped up to take the kick himself but could only watch as Adam Legzdins flung himself to his right to push the ball away.
The game became quite scrappy as Albion struggled to get a foothold in the game but things began to heat up in the 24th minute when Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts was yellow carded for a clumsy foul on Lewis Young as he attempted to get away down the right wing. Albion's Richard Walker quickly followed him into the book for aiming a kick at a defender as he tried to close down the keeper.
As things began to boil over, referee Trevor Kettle showed three more yellow cards in quick succession. A strong and robust challenge by Adam Bolder on Jon Ashton infuriated the home side and bench, just ten yards away and as the official struggled to keep a lid on things Bolder and Kevin Grocott found themselves booked as well as Holroyd for his reaction to the challenge on his team mate.
There was more controversy in the 34th minute as Stevenage took the lead from the penalty spot. Lawrie Wilson went to ground inside the box claiming to have been fouled by Grocott and after an appealing look over to the assistant who eventually flagged Scott LAIRD took up penalty taking duties and sent Legzdins the wrong way to give his side the lead.
Albion were fortunate to only be one down in the 43rd minute as Stevenage rattled the Brewers woodwork. A quirky free kick routine on the left saw Michael Bostwick given too much room to lay the ball off for Aston whose 12 yard effort cannoned back off the crossbar. Referee Kettle finally brought a bad tempered first half to a close after six bookings, two penalties and no less than six minutes of additional time with both sides clearly in need of a break to clear their heads.
Half time: Stevenage 1-0 Burton Albion
After a first half where Albion failed to muster a chance either on or off target Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido opted to make a change for the second period with James Collins thrown into the fray for his debut in place of Richard Walker. The young striker was immediately into the thick of the action going down under a challenge in the penalty area with the referee waving away the Villa man's penalty claims.
Albion though only had two more minutes to wait for the equaliser. Lewis Young having survived a barrage of boos during the first half played a neat ball inside that was flicked on by Andy Corbett and thje ball fell invitingly for Aaron WEBSTER to take a touch and guide the ball beyond the outstretched right hand of Chris Day.
Stevenage were rattled and after his first half booking home skipper Mark Roberts was maybe fortunate to escape a second card after bringing down Harrad earning a stern lecture from referee Kettle and an immediate substitution, for his own safety, from his manager.
The hosts though were back in front in the 58th minute. Wilson was allowed far too much room down the right and when he crossed in from the bye line, HOLROYD was left unmarked to swivel and hit an acrobatic volley past Legzdins.
It should have been three for the hosts in the 65th minute when substitute Yemi Odubade raced away from the halfway line but with the Albion defence trying to get back and get a challenge in the former Oxford winger blasted his shot wide of the target.
It was not long before referee Kettle was the centre of attention again. Luke Foster, brought on to prevent Mark Roberts getting sent off, was involved in a tangle with Harrad twenty five yards out and when the Brewers striker went to ground the official went immediately to his top pocket to produce a red card. Aaron Webster stepped up and produced a flying save from Day.
Peschisolido's last throw of the dice was to throw on a third striker for the last eighteen minutes as Greg Pearson replaced Lewis Young. Albion began to press forward and Jacques Maghoma dragged a shot wide before Aaron Webster at the far post headed wide under pressure.
Pearson was also close with a header in the 88th minute after a free kick from Adam Bolder came to him ten yards out from goal.
STEVENAGE: (4-5-1) Day; Henry, Ashton, Roberts (Foster, 52), Laird; Wilson, Mousinho, Long, Bostwick, Winn (Odubade, 52, Charles, 76); Holroyd. Substitutes: Bayes, Charles, Griffin, Bridges, Vincenti.
ALBION: (4-4-2) Legzdins; Corbett, Austin, Stanton, Boertien (Grocott, 7); Young (Pearson, 72), Bolder, Maghoma, Webster; Harrad, Walker (Collins, 46). Substitutes: Poole, Phillips, Dyer, Gilroy.
Referee: Mr.T.Kettle (Rutland)
GOALS: Stevenage - Laird (34 pen), Holroyd (58) , Albion - Webster (48)