A first Saturday home League win of 2011 was enough to pull the Brewers three points clear of the League 2 relegation zone as the nightmares of last season's 6-5 capitulation to Cheltenham Town put to bed by a 2-0 victory over Mark Yates side. Greg Pearson fired home from the penalty spot in the first half after Andy Gallinagh had been sent off for denying a goal scoring opportunity. The irony was that after the challenge, Pearson picked himself up to 'score' only to be pulled back by the referee having already blown for the spot kick.
Man of the match Jacques Maghoma made sure of the three points eleven minutes from time with his second goal in successive weekends firing in from a tight angle after good work from Pearson.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido settled for just the one change for the game against Cheltenham. With Sam Winnall starting a three match suspension for his red card at Bury on Tuesday there was another recall for experienced front man Richard Walker who started the game at Morecambe.
A shaky start for the Brewers almost saw Matt Green profit from a cross in with an instinctive first time poke towards goal but Adam Legzdins was on his toes to tip the ball ball with Andy Corbett mopping up.
Albion quickly broke forward and good link up play between Walker and Jimmy Phillips played in Greg Pearson who burst into the box and crossed where a Cheltenham defender hacked a clearance dangerously towards his own goal with the danger averted by a hasty clearance.
After the game started to settle down there was a huge let off for the Brewers as Wesley Thomas spurned a superb chance to open the scoring. Steve Elliott's long ball out from the back found Thomas in a suspiciously offside looking position. The flag stayed down and as the defence tried to get back Thomas dallied long enough to allow Corbett to get enough of a touch on the ball to put Thomas off and concede a corner.
Albion looked to heed the warning and had two decent chances to take the lead. Pearson tricked his way into the area but opted to shoot from a narrow angle and a surging run from Jacques Maghoma ended with the midfield trying his luck from range and forcing Scott Brown into a good save.
The game erupted in drama on the half hour mark. Pearson burst into the box and tumbled under a challenge from Andy Gallinagh. PEARSON got to his feet and beat Brown to put the ball in the back of the net but referee David Foster had already blown for a penalty. After a delay while Gallinagh was red carded the Albion striker coolly kept his nerve to stroke home the penalty that gave Albion the lead.
Buoyed by the lead, Russ Penn strode forward and hit a low shot that Brown did well to hold on to with Albion sensing a chance to grab a second.
McGrath was not far away either with a free kick that just went wide after Philliips had been upended twenty five yards out.
Legzdins had to come to the rescue of his defence in the 41st minute as the ten men of Cheltenham almost equalised. Brian Smikle burst through as Albion's defence almost faded away but the Albion stopper came out and superbly blocked to keep Albion in front.
Maghoma was inches away from doubling the Brewers advantage on the stroke of half time with a jinking run and shot but his effort was just over the angle of the goal.
Half time: Burton Albion1-0 Cheltenham Town
Albion began brightly after the break trying to make the extra man count but Cheltenham saw off what Burton could throw at them. The visitors responded with a Smikle effort that failed to really trouble Legzdins and although they won a series of free kicks they lacked the quality to seriously threaten the Burton goal.
Calvin Zola was the first substitution made by Paul Peschisolido just before the hour mark with Richard Walker the man withdrawn.
It was Pearson though who had the next chance for Burton. Good work from Maghoma played in Aaron Webster and his cross needed a flick at the near post but Pearson could not quite guide the ball beyond Brown. Jimmy Phillips then tried his luck from the other side with a neat jink inside his man on the edge of the box but his low shot crept just past the far post.
Maghoma was proving to be the major threat for Albion and from a central position he almost conjured a second goal in the 68th minute. His ball forward was probably intended for either Zola or Pearson but with both of them in danger of being offside the midfielder went for his own pass and was only beaten to it by Brown on the edge of the penalty area.
Cheltenham produced a spell of pressure which was brought on by a sliced clearance from Legzdins but the Albion defence held firm under the Robins attack and it was a cue for Albion to make another change with thirteen minutes to go with Adam Bolder brought on for Jimmy Phillips as the Brewers went to 4-3-3.
There was a warning for Albion in the 79th minute when Smikle had a goal disallowed for offside but fears were soon dispelled when Albion went straight up the other end and made it 2-0. Greg Pearson won a battle on the edge of the box with Martin Riley and pulled the ball back for MAGHOMA. The chance seemed to have gone when the midfielders shot was blocked but he gathered the ball back again and fired just inside the far post to the delight of the Brewers fans behind the goal.
Adam Bolder was then upended on the edge of the box with Webster's free kick bouncing clear for the former Derby midfielder to drill a shot wide. Zola also had a chance to further improve the Brewers when he beat the offside trap but he screwed a left foot shot wide of the target.
Darren Moore hobbled off in the last couple of minutes to be replaced by Tom Parkes and the young defender had to make two timely interceptions as Cheltenham went in search of a late consolation goal but the Brewers held out for three valuable points and a morale boosting clean sheet ahead of their final game in hand on the rest of the division against Bradford on Tuesday.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, James, Moore, Webster; Phillips, Penn, McGrath, Maghoma; Pearson, Walker. Substitutes: Poole, Young, Preen, Dyer, Parkes, Bolder, Zola.
CHELTENHAM: Brown, Andrew, Bird, Gallinagh, Riley, Thomas, Smikle, Artus, Elliott, Green. Pack. Substitutes: Pook, Lloyd-Weston, Melligan, Haynes, Lewis, Lee, Fawke.
Referee: Mr. D.Foster (Tyne & Wear)
GOALS: Albion - Pearson (31 pen), Maghoma (79)