A brave and spirited performance from the Brewers ultimately saw them go out of this season's Carling Cup at the hands of beaten play-off finalists Cardiff City. Whereas last season Albion meekly surrendered to Reading with a flurry of goals early in the game, this game was entirely different. After battling back to equalise just three minutes after going behind, through Shaun Harrad, it was not until the second period of extra time that the hosts finally stamped their authority on the game and sealed a second round place.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido made two changes to his line-up from Saturday's goalless draw against Oxford United. With Darren Moore not risked it was a chance for Cwmbran born Tony James to return to the centre of defence. The absence of Andy Corbett at right back caused a slight selection headache but Russell Penn switched to the full back role allowing Lewis Young to come in for his full debut on the right side of midfield.
Youngsters Jack Dyer and Garyn Preen came onto the bench after missing out on Saturday with the latter making a return to the club from which he joined Southampton at the age of twelve.
Hampered by international call-ups and injuries the home side could do nothing but field their strongest possible line-up with a host of household names lining up against the Brewers including prolific scorers Michael Chopra and Peter Whittingham. There was also a hasty debut for the Bluebirds latest signing Martin John who went straight into the side at left back.
Albion started brightly but had to be aware of the speedy counter attacks from the home side. In just the fourth minute Peter Whittingham released Jay Bothroyd down the left channel and his hopeful lobbed shot had Adam Legzdins at full stretch to push the ball wide of his far post.
Cardiff were looking for an early goal to settle any nerves, given the number of upsets in Tuesday's ties, and Chris Burke fired well over with a speculative effort when Nathan Stanton's header fell kindly for him in the sixth minute.
Bothroyd was adopting a direct approach with some strong running at the heart of Albion's defence and only a poor touch after a lovely one two with Michael Chopra allowed Legzdins to come out and gather, averting the danger. With pressure building Albion survived another skirmish in their box when a wayward defensive header by Russ Penn came out to Whittingham and his shot was deflected away by Nathan Stanton.
Cardiff made their pressure pay in the 16th minute though as Whittingham found space on the left hand side of the penalty area and with Albion looking in vain for an offside flag he squared for BOTHROYD to calmly slot the ball home from eighty yards out.
Albion though were level within three minutes. A poor ball out of defence by Anthony Gerrard, cousin of Liverpool and England captain Steven, allowed Aaron Webster to knock the ball forward for Shaun HARRAD who calmly nicked the ball over keeper Tom Heaton for his first goal of the season.
The Brewers were dealt a blow when after receiving treatment Aaron Webster had to be replaced. It meant a first appearance of the season for Jimmy Phillips, Albion's goalscorer in the Carling Cup last season at Reading.
Bothroyd was inches away from a second in the 36th minute with a rasping shot that just cleared Legzdins' crossbar and the referee was quick to book Russell Penn for blatantly pulling Chopra to the ground during the build up. Albion were needing to defend desperately at times but with Stanton in impressive form at the back the Brewers navigated their way to half time on level terms.
Half time - Cardiff City 1-1 Burton Albion
The Bluebirds made a change at the start of the second half with goalscorer Bothroyd withdrawn to be replaced by Scottish striker Ross McCormack.
The substitute was quickly involved latching onto a deep cross to the far post but his first touch deserted him, the ball running harmlessly for a goalkick.
The home side were quickly forced into a second substitution as Sam Matthews limped off with an injury to be replaced by Paul Quinn.
Cardiff fans momentarily thought they had gone backj in front on the hour mark when Tony James failed to cut out at through ball allowing McCormack to stride forward but the striker's shot, although close, rippled the side netting to the dismay of the crowd in the main stand.
In an attempt to up the tempo and make the breakthrough the home side brought on former fans favourite Jason Koumas, signed on a season long loan deal from Premiership side Wigan Athletic.
After soaking up cardiff pressure Albion almost went into the lead in the 71st minute. Good hold up play brought Adam Bolder into play and he in turn fed Young down the right hand side. The young winger whipped in a great ball that was just missed by the diving Greg Pearson and just behind him home substitute Quinn almost put through his own net. From the resulting corner a neat flick at the near post from Harrad almost crept in with home keeper Tom Heaton glad to clutch the ball.
With seventeen minutes to go Albion made their second change with former Cardiff youngster Garyn Preen given the chance to shine in place of Lewis Young.
McCormack did put the ball into the back of Albion's net in the 77th minute but home hopes were dashed again as his stooping header was ruled out by an assistant's offside flag.
The third change for the Brewers came in the 78th minute and it was another debutant, James Ellison coming on for Albion's goalscorer Shaun Harrad.
With extra time looming neither side really showed the cutting edge to suggest that the game could be won in the regulation ninety minutes. Three additional minutes signalled by the fourth official failed to inspire the two sides to score a late winner although Greg Pearson came agonisingly close to creating a shock with the last kick of the game. Jimmy Phillips worked some magic down the left and fired in a low cross that found itself at the feet of the Albion striker who tried to turn and steer the ball home but sliced it across goal.
Score at 90 minutes - Cardiff City 1-1 Burton Albion
Extra time began with the hosts in the ascendency and another excellent block from Albion's man of the match Nathan Stanton denied Michael Chopra from giving Cardiff the advantage. The Bluebirds were close again from the resulting corner kick but Gabor Gyepes could not direct his back post header inside the post.
Danny Drinkwater almost snatched a goal with a shot from the edge of the area after John McGrath failed to clear effectively but Legzdins, at full stretch, was able to watch the ball fly beyond his far post.
After a raking move across the pitch prompted by Bolder, the former Derby midfielder almost grabbed his first goal for the club picking up a return pass from Jimmy Phillips and, on the turn, scooping the ball over the post from 15 yards out.
Phillips tried his luck himself in the 102nd minute. Linking up with Paul Boertien on the left hand side the winger cut inside but failed to get enough bend on his shot to trouble Heaton.
Chopra spurned a good opportunity in the 103rd minute, racing down the centre and firing a left foot shot high and not very handsome from just outside the box.
Bolder went closer than his previous effort again after good work by Phillips and would maybe have been disappointed not to have at least forced Heaton into a save with a shot from the edge of the penalty area as the first half of extra time came to a close.
Half time (extra time) - Cardiff City 1 - 1 Burton Albion
Albion's resistance was broken in the 107th minute. Jason Koumas saw a shot blocked by Tony James on the edge of the box but the ball fell back to the midfielder. Rather than attempt another shot the former Welsh international slid a pass into the path of fellow substitute McCORMACK and he found the back of the net via the post to the dismay of Albion's defence. Three minutes later and the striker had a second firing low into the bottom corner of the net as he was allowed too much space to move forward and get his shot away.
Michael CHOPRA rounded off a rather flattering scoreline with a composed finish in the 118th minute but it was harsh on Albion who had battled to hard and did not deserve to lose by such a hefty scoreline.
BLUEBIRDS: Heaton, Rae (Koumas, 68), Gyepes, Whittingham, Chopra, Bothroyd (McCormack, 46), Burke, Gerrard, Drinkwater, John, Matthews (Quinn, 53). Substitutes: Hudson, Taiwo, Wildig, Jarvis.
BREWERS: Legzdins; Penn, Stanton, James, Webster; Young, Bolder, McGrath, Webster (Phillips, 34); Harrad, Pearson. Substitutes: Poole, Walker, Ellison, Preen, Dyer, Grocott.
Referee: Mr. M.P. Russell (Hertfordshire)
GOALS: Cardiff - Bothroyd (16), McCormack (107, 110), Chopra (118); Burton - Harrad (19)