Burton Albion's away day blues continued on the Devon coast as they slipped to a disappointing defeat at Plainmoor against Torquay United. It was a night for playing percentages and grinding out a goalless draw in wet conditions but a scrambled goal from defender Chris Robertson ten minutes into the second half proved enough to deny Albion even a share of the spoils.
Following their impressive victory last time out at home to League leaders Chesterfield on Friday evening Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido was able to name an unchanged side for the delayed visit to Torquay United. With Wolves loanee Scott Malone available again after a bout of tonsilitis the best he could manage was a place on the substitutes bench as the ever reliable Paul Boertien held on to the left back spot. James Ellison was the unlucky man to drop out of the eighteen to make way for the return of Malone. The game also marked the 50th start in a Burton Albion shirt for former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jacques Maghoma.
The Gulls had former Albion skipper Guy Branston in their line-up alongside a former transfer target of the Brewers Chris Robertson.
The hosts made a bright start and young striker Billy Kee showed himself to be full of confidence with an audacious attempt to lob Adam Legzdins from distance with less than ninety seconds on the clock. There was a genuine scare for the Albion defence moment later though when Tony James slipped and allowed chris Zebroski to charge into the box and when the livewire fromtman went over under a challenge from Nathan Stanton there were nervous glances at the referee who immediately waved away appeals for a penalty.
Torquay were presented with a good opportunity to open the scoring in the seventh minute when Stanton was penalised for a foul on the edge of the penalty area but Eunan O'Kane's free kick was safely caught at his near post by Adam Legzdins.
Albion's first chance to threaten the home goal came in the 12th minute when Russell Penn won a corner and although Adam Bolder got up highest to challenge for John McGrath's flagkick the experienced midfielder could not direct his effort on target.
Jake Robinson, on loan from Shrewsbury Town, was already proving a handful down the Torquay left giving Andy Corbett a torrid time in the opening exchanges and he tried his luck from the edge of the area on ther quarter of an hour mark but again good handling from Legzdins averted the danger. Another chance fell his way almost instantly but this time the Brewers keeper was able to watch the ball go wide of his post.
Another slip by James almost allowed Torquay in again as the game reached half way in the first period. the centre half stumbled allowing Zebroski to put a dangerous cross in the Robinson headed towards goal and with the aid of a deflection off Corbett the ball grazed the top of the crossbar and behind the goal.
Albion were indebted to their goalkeeper again a minute later as Zebroski raced clear of the defence onto a flick on but Legzdins stood tall and beat away the goalbound shot to keep the scores level.
Burton chances were few and far between but they were close when a McGrath corner flicked off the head of a Torquay defender and was just too far in front of Zola in the six yard box. Maghoma then burst forward but just when it looked as if he was going to get away from his man a good tackle set up another home attack. The ball eventually found its way to O'Kane via Robinson's left wing run but his finish was wayward.
Aaron Webster warmed the palms of home keeper Danny Potter in the 33rd minute after twisting and turning in the penalty area. His effort was on target but straight at the former Cambridge stopper who caught the ball comfortably.
Calvin Zola spurned the clearest Albion chance of the half in the 39th minute. Good Albion pressure allowed Maghoma to feed a ball through to Zola inside the area but on the turn he dragged a left foot shot wide of the far post.
There was a sense of anguish amonst Albion followers when Guy Branston launched himself acrobatically at a Torquay corner but the plaudits went not to the former albion stopper for a fantastic goal attempt but to Albion's keeper who made a superb save to scoop the ball away and keep his side on terms.
Half time: Torquay United 0-0 Burton Albion
Robinson, perhaps unsurprisingly had the first real effort in the second half. Torquay launched a quick raid with a crossfield ball that picked out Billy Kee and when he found Robinson the striker snatched at his effort and watched it fly over the crossbar.
The second half was being played at a frenetic pace with both sides looking to attackand it paid dividends for the hosts in the 55th minute. Andy Corbett needlessly conceded a corner kick under no pressure and when the corner came in Branston got in a towering header that caused chaos in the Albion six yard box and in the end it was Chris ROBERTSON who was adjudged to have got the final touch before it crossed the line.
O'Kane tried his luck from distance as Torquay tried to double their lead but Legzdins got down well to push the ball away.
With Sam Winnall having already replaced Russell Penn, Albion made their second substitution with 20 minutes to go with Greg Pearson coming on for Adam Bolder. Albion immediately went to 4-4-2 with Winnall slotting into the right side of midfield role.
All too often Albion attempts to play passing football foundered in the wet conditions when perhaps a more direct approach was required. Maghoma tried to play in Zola on one good break but perhaps over compensated for the conditions playing the ball just too far ahead of the striker with Potter quick off his line to snuff out the danger.
Paul Peschisolido's last throw of the dice was to throw on Jimmy Phillips with just ten minutes to go in place of Webster. The game however was becoming scrappier by the minute with defences easily coping with long balls aimed towards the penalty area.
Billy Kee threatened to break the monotony with a great turn and run inside tthe last five minutes but as he threatened to release substitute Danny stevens for a clear run at goal, Tony James got in a vital block to halt the attack.
Perhaps summing up a frustrating night for the Albion, Maghoma teased his way into a position to shoot in added time but blasted wastefully wide of the target. a late flurry of free kicks and corners still proved fruitless as Albion failed yet again to secure backk to back wins in the League.
TORQUAY: Potter, Rowe-Turner (Nicholson, 83), Robertson, Stanley, Mansell, Kee, Robinson (Stevens, 76), O'Kane, Oastler, Branston, Zebroski (Gilligan, 87). Substitutes: Bevan, Ellis, Halpin, Lathrope.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, Stanton, James, Boertien; Bolder (Pearson, 71), McGrath; Penn (Winnall, 55), Webster (Phillips, 80), Maghoma; Zola. Substitutes: Poole, Moore, Young, Malone.
Referee: K.Evans (Lancashire)
GOALS: Torquay - Robertson (55)
Attendance: 1,602 (59 away)