Burton Albion's run of dismal away form continued at the Crown Ground as former Conference rivals Accrington Stanley ran out comfortable 3-1 victors against Paul Peschisolido's beleaguered travelling side.
A 1-0 half time deficit was eminently retrievable but a rare miscued clearance from Adam Legzdins gave Stanley the chance to double their lead minutes after the restart and a third from skipper Andy Proctor put the game beyond the Brewers. Greg Pearson's late strike was nothing more than a consolation for Albion.
The managers plan to bring back skipper John McGrath after illness were thwarted when the influential midfielder reported in still feeling the after effects of his weeekend sickness bug. On a pitch that from the stands looked better than expected the Albion manager opted to give a full debut to winger Simon Whaley in a flexible midfield formation that also saw Aaron Webster pushed forward to support Sam Winnall. With Paul Boertien not fit enough to start after coming off at half time in the Stockport match, Scott Malone was restored to the starting line-up at left back while Ryan Austin replaced Darren Moore in the centre of defence. Andy Corbett reached the landmark of 300 starts in a Burton Albion shirt when he took to the field at the Crown Ground.
A lively start suggested plenty more action than Brewers fans saw in the bore draw at Stockport County on Saturday. Both sides looked to exploit long searching balls over the defence and although Sam WInnall almost conjured an opportunity for himself after pressurising the home defence, the first real chance came to Jimmy Ryan in the 11th minute as he tried his luck from 20 yards, Adam Legzdins getting down well to push his shot around the post.
Home skipper Andy Procter also tried his luck from a similar distance but put his shot wide of the post.The hosts continued to try shots form distance and Procter also fired high and wide after a block by Ryan Austin.
Albion had a chance to create some pressure themselves in the 21st minute but Winnall's free kick was easily cleared.
Accrington made more use of their next set piece with Sean Hessey pumping the ball into the box after Tony James had conceded a foul forty yards from goal. Terry Gornell rose highest to nod the ball down and in the ensuing scramble, Phil EDWARDS got there first to stab the ball home.
Albion were in need of a spark but with Winnall ploughing a lone furrow in attack it was no surprise that the hosts looked the more likely to add to their lead than Albion were to equalise. Ian Craney, often a thorn in Albion's side in previous years almost doubled Stanley's advantage in the 33rd minute when he found space on the left and as Legzdins rushed out slipped the ball past the keeper but to the relief of the Brewers defence the ball slid past the outside of the far post.
With the slope in their favour Accrington poured forwards and Ryan, again looking dangerous hit another chance well over .
With two minutes left of the first period, a ball forward from Luke Joyce was collected by Sean McConville but his deft chip was easily collected by Legzdins.
Albion were probably relieved to go in at half time just one goal in arrears after a disappointing half where they were second to the ball most of the time.
Half-time - Accrington Stanley 1-0 Burton Albion
Albion made a positive substitution at half time with the introduction of Greg Pearson as some much needed support for Winnall in attack as Aaron Webster suffered a recurrence of his calf problem but before the change could have any impact the Brewers found themselves two goals in arrears through a real gift of a goal just three minutes after the restart. Ryan Austin's backpass should have been a routine clearance for Legzdins but he made a rare error to scuff the ball straight to CRANEY who took the ball wide and slid the ball into the empty net from a tight angle.
The Brewers needed to clear their heads and quickly to avoid the game getting totally away from them and there was a sigh of relief when Joe Jacobson's free kick went over the bar after Austin had been booked for a foul on Craney 25 yards from goal.
Burton briefly raised themselves and with Adam Bolder working tirelessly in the midfield but it was becoming an increasing struggle as the home side carried by far the greater threat. The game was up for the Brewers in the 67th minute as Stanley grabbed their third of the night.Terry Gornell initially outmuscled James and Ryan's ball back in was not cleared effectively by Corbett. The ball found its way to the feet of PROCTER who calmly curled the ball past Legzdins from fifteen yards out.
Albion finally won their first corner of the evening in the 74th minute, an indication of what a long and unproductive night it had been. Seven out of nine games on the road have been difficult and this clearly seemed like one game too many as Accrington's direct style and tempo were too much for the Brewers to handle.
Dean Winnard tried his luck with a low shot from 25 yards but Legzdins clung onto the ball at the second attempt as Gornell looked to pounce on any rebound.
Young midfielder Jack Dyer finally got a chance to prove himself as he was introduced for his League debut with fifteen minutes to go. The former Villa youngster has had to wait patiently for his chance having only had a substitute's appearance in the Johnstones Paint Trophy to his name earlier in the season.
Greg PEARSON finally gave the long suffering Burton fans something to slightly smile about in the 88th minute. Scott Malone surged forwards on the left and exchanged passes with Russ Penn before sliding in a ball to the near post that the Albion striker nicked in before the keeper could get there.
All too little too late but Albion had shouts for a penalty when Ryan Austin's shot was blocked in the area but referee Eddie Ilderton only awarded a corner. It led to a late flurry of Burton pressure but Accrington survived what Albion threw at them.
ACCRINGTON: Cisak, Winnard, Hessey, Procter, Ryan, McConville (Lindfield, 77), Edwards, Joyce (Murphy, 73), Gornell, Jacobson, Craney (Putterill, 86). Substitutes: Dunbavin, Long, Boulding, Smyth.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, Austin, James, Malone; Bolder; Penn, Maghoma (Dyer, 76);Whaley (Rodney, 54), Webster (Pearson, 46); Winnall. Substitutes: Poole, Moore, Walker, Phillips.
Referee: Mr. E.Ilderton. (Tyne & Wear)
GOALS: Accrington - Edwards (24), Craney (48), Procter (67); Albion - Pearson (88)