Burton Albion ground out another important point in the their quest to climb away from the lower reaches of the League 2 table after an uninspiring game at Edgeley Park. The hosts were undoubtedly in need of the points more than the Brewers and they showed the greater desire in the tackle but a lack of quality in attack let them down and showed why they are struggling at the foot of the table.
Scott Malone earned himself a recall to the side after recovering from the thigh injury that had kept him out of the team since the away draw at Hereford United. Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido had contemplated changes to his midfield to keep things fresh but the decision was made for him when John McGrath withdrew from the squad through illness. Malone's return came on the left side of the attacking midfield trio with Jacques Maghoma switching to the right hand side and Russell Penn dropping deeper to join Adam Bolder in the slightly more defensive midfield role.
After scoring twice in the victory over Lincoln City on Tuesday night, Sam Winnall continued in the lone striker role with Aaron Webster, made skipper in McGrath's absence, pushing forward from the midfield to support.
Stockport named former Brewers man Aaron Brown in their line-up. The tall defender spent a short spell on loan with the Brewers last season without establishing himself in the team.
The hosts made a bright start and had two early corners that Albion struggled to deal with and as early as the sixth minute Alan Goodall put in a superb cross from the left that found David Poole beyond the far post but under pressure from Paul Boertien, the young midfielder fired over.
Albion finally got a foothold in the game but it was still the hosts who looked the more dangerous side and they really should have taken the lead in the 18th minute although Adam Legzdins took a huge amount of credit for keeping the game scoreless. Ryan Doble broke through behind the Brewers defence and looked set to score when Legzdins did enough to force him wide. Doble held on to the ball and put in an angled shot that Tony James hacked off the line. The ball came back out to Adam Griffin who replied with a curling effort towards the far corner but the recovering Legzdins did enough to push the ball away from the danger area.
The Brewers looked dangerous themselves whenever they could get Winnall near the ball. The young striker was perhaps unfrotunate to be flagged offside as he latched onto Aaron Webster's angled pass and was then only just beaten to the ball by keeper Ian McLoughlin as another ball over the top exposed a suspect home defence.
As the pitch began to cut up flowing football became ever more difficult but Russ Penn managed to work himself a shooting opportunity just after the half hour mark but the midfielder dragged his shot from the edge of the area disappointingly wide of the post.
Perhaps Albion's best opportunity of the half came in the 39th minute. Maghoma and Penn worked space down the right hand side for the latter to put in a low cross that fell nicely for Winnall. The Wolves loanee took a touch to set himself and fired goalwards but saw his effort blocked.
In truth it was a poor half of football on an increasingly poor pitch but the half time interval at least gave the Brewers boss an opportunity to get his side sorted after a laboured performance where McGrath's presence had certainly been missed.
Half time: Stockport County 0-0 Burton Albion
The half time team talk included making a change at the start of the second period. Paul Boertien failed to reappear after the break and he was replaced by Nottingham Forest youngster Nialle Rodney. There was also a change of formation asRodney went into attack alongside Winnall with Scott Malone dropping back into the left back slot. Aaron Webster and Jacques Maghoma took up more orthodox wing positions in a 4-4-2 line-up.
Albion had something of a let off in the 51st minute when Griffin released Matt Paterson but the on loan frontman could not find the target under pressure.
Winnall and Rodney showed the first signs of a promising partnership in the 54th minute with some neat play on the edge of the box but Rodney was just unable to gather the ball and get his shot away.
Stockport still continued to carve out the better of the few chances in the game and the next to come their way was in the 62nd minute. Pressure down the right saw Ryan Doble get into a position near the touchline and although heis effort was almost certainly an attempted cross, Legzdins had to do well at the near post to keep Albion's defensive sheet clean.
Doble then tested Legzdins again in the 65th minute when the ball broke to him in space but from just outside the box he was unable to get the better of Albion's keeper.
With the game becoming ever more stretched the Brewers had a good chance themselves a minute later, Jacques MAghoma getting away down the left and crossing low for Russ Penn who could only stab his effort goalwards and into the grateful hands of McLoughlin,
Greg Pearson was quickly introduced in place of a disappointing Maghoma before Stockport went even closer to taking the lead. Paterson managed to work space in a similar position to Doble a few moments before but this time he fired across Legzdins who produced a superb fingertip only for referee Graham Salisbury to infuriate the home fans by giving a goal kick.
There was nothing Legzdins could do in the 72nd minute when Paterson broke forward again. He seemed destined to score as he raced in but to the relief of Burton players and fans he lifted his shot against the crossbar.
Albion's final change was to introduce Ryan Austin in place of Winnall. Rodney moved more central and Corbett moved into midfield with Tony James pushing across to right back to accommodate Austin in the middle.
It was still the home side looking more likely to open the scoring as Albion's defence continued to get pushed deeper. James Wallace tried his luck from 22 yards out but fired wide and then having won a 50-50 challenge with Aaron Webster fired another low shot that flicked off Darren Moore for a corner.
Stockport threw themselves forward in stoppage time but Albion threw themselves equally at every ball into the box to keep that elusive clean sheet and they did just enough to secure another vital point.
STOCKPORT, McLoughlin, Lynch, Goodall, Turnbull, Paterson (Fisher, 86), Doble, Griffin, Poole (Rowe, 79), Wallace, Rose, Brown. Substitutes: Vincent, Tansey, Mainwaring, Halls, Fisher, Glennon.
ALBION: Legzdins, Corbett, James, Moore,Boertien (Rodney, 46); Penn, Bolder; Maghoma (Pearson, 67), Webster, Malone; Winnall (Austin, 76). Substitutes: Poole, Whaley, Walker, Phillips.
Referee: Mr. G.Salisbury (Lancashire)
Attendance: 4,278 (355 away)