It was the result that wasnt supposed to happen. Chesterfield, top of the league and with an unbeaten home record at their impressive new ground against a Brewers side still searching for their first away win of the season. Football though has no regard for the form book and Burton turned in a hugely impressive performance to dent the promotion ambitions of the Spireites who played the last half an hour of the match with ten men after midfielder Derek Niven was red carded for a challenge on skipper John McGrath.
James Collins and Shaun Harrad were the men on the mark as Paul Peschisolido's men stunned John Sheridan's high flyers.
Despite a battling victory over Oxford United in the FA Cup last weekend Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido opted to change his side for the visit to top of the table Chesterfield. Last weekend's goalscorer Aaron Webster was recalled to the line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation that saw James Collins retain his place as the lone striker and leading scorer Shaun Harrad dropped to the bench. Harrad had not scored in open play for five matches whilst Collins has scored twice since joining the club on loan the game with Harrad only having a penalty against Bradford to show for his considerable efforts.
Adam Bolder and John McGrath formed the protective cover for an unchanged back four with Jacques Maghoma, Russell Penn and Webster providing the link to the front man.
Twice the Brewers had early opportunities to test out the Chesterfield defence from set pieces but from both a free kick and a corner Adam Bolder could only find the grateful arms of goalkeeper Tommy Lee. However the Brewers did not have long to wait for the opening goal that took the hosts by surprise. James COLLINS was penalised for offside from a long clearance by Adam Legzdins. The Spireites made a complete hash of the free kick with skipper Dwayne Mattis hurriedly dispossessed after receiving the ball from Simon Ford allowing the Aston Villa loanee to advance on Lee and drill the ball home.
Instead of a heavy bombardment from the stunned hosts it was Albion who grew in confidence and only a linesman's offside flag prevented Collins from having another run on goal in the 19th minute as the Spireite's high defensive line was almost breached again.
Chesterfield began to have some pressure but Tony James blocked a Craig Davies effort at close quarters and Collins had to perform sterling defensive duties to clear a dangerous corner away from his own penalty area.
Albion continued to force chances fore themselves with Aaron Webster having a header deflected wide and John McGrath trying to mark his 100th Football League appearance with a speculative strike from 30 yards.
Scott Malone had to hurriedly clear over his own crossbar in the 27th minute as the home side's attacking side begamn to look more lively, the experienced Jack Lester linking with Craig Davies and Danny Whitaker to engineer a half chance for the latter that needed a clearance from the on loan Wolves left back.
Nathan Stanton provided a superbly timed challenge on Lester as Davies rose well to nod into his path and as the Brewers defence began to come under pressure Tony James lost possession allowing Whitaker to put another dangerous ball into Albion's eighteen yard box.
Davies' frustration got the better of his on the half hour mark as he was penalised for a minor spat with Bolder with Premiership referee Lee Mason brnadishing the yellow card at the Burton born striker.
Chesterfield came closest to levelling the scores in the 36th minute. Kelvin Lomax's free kick the left was headed back into the middle of the Albion penalty where Mattis almost atoned for his earlier with a spectacular volley that flew just over Legzdins' crossbar.
Scott Malone became the first Burton player to go into the referee's notebook after blocking Tommy Lee's attempted quick clearance from Bolder's corner and the play quickly switched to the other end where Davies got a sight of goal accelerating away from James to make room for a left foot shot that Legzdins touched past his left hand post.
The home pressure eventually told in the final minute of the first half. With Albion's defence getting deeper under the onslaught Derek Niven strode forward and hit a low shot that fell kindly for WHITAKER to turn into the net from eight yards out. The relieved midfielder was immediately booked for stupidly kicking the ball into the Albion supporters behind the goal.
Half time: Chesterfield 1-1 Burton Albion
The Brewers were forced into a change at the back at the start of the second half with the hugely impressive Stanton having to be replaced by Darren Moore.
In almost a carbon copy of the start of the first half, Albion had a great chance to score in the opening moments. Russell Penn capitalised on a slip at the back from Lomax only to see Lee save with his legs and as Albion maintained the pressure Aaron Webster rose unmarked eight yards out but the usually lethal midfielder put the ball straight into the midriff of the relieved home keeper. Collins then almost doubled his tally for the afternoon with a dipping shot that took a deflection onto the roof of the net. Substitute Moore almost bagged his first Albion goal from the resulting corner smaashing an angled shot from beyond the far post that Lee did well to beat away.
Collins squandered a brilliant opportunity to put the Brewers back into the lead in the 55th minute. A routine long ball forward from Legzdins from an offside decision was allowed to bounce into the Chesterfield penalty area and unmarked, Collins tried to place his volley into the corner but only succeeded in putting the ball wide.
An already lively start to the second period became even more so when referee Lee Mason showed Niven a straight red card in the 57th minute. John McGrath tried to hook the ball away under pressure and whilst there can be no doubt that Niven caught McGrath slightly high and late the red card seemed harsh.
Russ Penn quickly picked up a yellow card for a challenge on Whitaker and it all threatened to boil over as a strong challenge from Bolder had the home side up in arms.
Chesterfield quickly made a change with Dean Morgan replacing Jack Lester but it was Albion who looked likely to get another goal. Maghoma strode forward and as the defence backed off he tried to curl an effort around Lee that was too close to the keeper. It proved to be the last action for the former Spurs trainee who was replaced with 20 minutes to go by Shaun Harrad as the Brewers reverted to an orthodox 4-4-2.
As the game became increasingly stretched it was Chesterfield who went close to going in front. As Davies broke free down the left, Legzdins slipped giving the striker a sight of goal but Scott Malone got back onto the goal line to clear the danger.
Collins still continued to look Albion's most likely source of a goal and was desperately unlucky to see a deflected effort curl agonisingly wide of the far post with twelve minutes to go.
The goal that Albion desired so much eventually came with just eight minutes to go. Webster played the ball in to HARRAD on the edge of the box and the striker did what he does best. He turned his man and hit a low shot that seemed to take an age to roll past Lee but which eventually nestled in the bottom corner of the net.
Burton were almost undone for a second time in the 87th minute. A long ball out from the Chesterfield defence ccaught out Moore and James who slipped in trying to get back. The door was open for substitute Jordan Bowery to put his side back on level terms but Adam Legzdins came out smartly to save and crucially keep the Brewers in front.
CHESTERFIELD: Lee; Hunt, Ford, Mattis, Lomax; Whitaker, Niven, Allott, Talbot; Davies (Bowery, 75), Lester (Morgan, 64). Substitutes: Redmond, Smalley, Breckin, Boden, Robertson, Bowery.
ALBION: Legzdins; Austin, James, Stanton (Moore, 46), Malone; Bolder, McGrath; Maghoma (Harrad, 70), Penn, Webster; Collins. Substitutes: Poole, Corbett, Walker, Young.
Referee: Mr. L.Mason (Lancashire)
GOALS: Chesterfield - Whitaker (44), Albion - Collins (5), Harrad (82)
Attendance: 7,864 (760 away)