A roller coaster of emotions at the Pirelli Stadium but it was all smiles for the Brewers as they secured a crucial 3-2 home victory over Macclesfield Town to move five points clear of the League 2 drop zone with three games in hand. Albion left it late and almost contrived to throw it all away when they went 2-1 down with just nine minutes to go. Emile Sinclair had stunned the home side with a goal after just 21 seconds and the lively striker struck again in the 81st minute after Calvin Zola had notched his firts league goal in a Brewers shirt just before half time.
But anyone who questioned the desire of the Brewers players to get themselves out of a hole were made to eat their words as Adam Bolder scored his first for the club with a thumping header and Sam Winnall coolly slotted home a penalty in the dying second to grab victory.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido decided to go on the attack for the visit of the Silkmen to the Pirelli Stadium. The manager's selection plans were somewhat hampered by having no fewer than FOUR players missing through suspension. With centre backs Darren Moore and Tom Parkes both serving one match bans for their red cards at Oxford United on Sunday. Ryan Austin was restored to the starting line-up alongside Tony James who was handed the captains armband for the game.
With Russ Penn starting a two match ban for ten yellow cards the Brewers boss opted for a change of formation to 4-3-3. Adam Bolder, Jacques Maghoma and Jack Dyer made up the midfield triumvirate which meant a front three of Calvin Zola, Sam Winnall and the recalled Greg Pearson. Influential defender Nathan Stanton came back onto the bench but was not risked from the start. Youngsters Bradley Munn and Jack Green from the Centre of Excellence were promoted to the substitutes bench.
Macclesfield went on the attack straight from the kick off and unbelievably were ahead just 21 seconds into the game. Tyrone Barnett was allowed far too much time to look up and pick out a sliderule pass to Emile SINCLAIR and when no offside came to Albion's rescue the former Nottingham Forest youngster slid a low shot beyond Adam Legzdins.
Although shellshocked the Brewers set about their task of restoring order and in the 6th minute good work down the left from Webster and Zola found Pearson in the middle but both he and Sam WInnall saw their efforts blocked. Albion were close again from the resulting corner with Ryan Austin seeing a goal bound header saved by former Tamworth keeper Jose Veiga.
In truth Albion should have been two down just seconds later. A bursting run down the right from Barnett allowed him the time to slide the ball across the box for SInclair but the striker should have done much better than sky his six yard shot over the crossbar, much to the relief of the Burton defence.
The Brewers defence was looking anything but secure and another chance for the visitors went begging in the thirteenth minute. Sam Wedgbury picked out Hamza Bencherif inside the area and he was allowed to turn and pick out Barnett but when he shot on the turn it was straight into the waiting arms of Legzdins.
Another half chance came for the Brewers in the 18th minute. Greg Pearson won a free kick down by the corner flag and Jack Dyer's free kick was onto the head of Zola who could not quite guide his header inside the far post.
The game continued to ebb from end to end at pace and the Brewers were presented with an excellent chance to equalise in the 27th minute. Dyer and Zola were both involved as the ball sat up for Winnall and he was unceremoniously brought down by Bencherif. The Algerian went into the referee's notebook before Sam Winnall saw his free kick come off the fingertips of Veiga and then the crossbar.
Just when it looked like a frustrating first half was going to end fruitless for the Brewers they found themselves level in the 43rd minute. Calvin ZOLA flicked the ball out to Jack Dyer and when his shot was blocked back into the path of the on loan Crewe man he gleefully lashed home from the edge of the area.
Unbelievably Albion could have found themselves in front at the break when Maghoma saw a volleyed effort go wide from a speculative shot from the edge of the area.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-1 Macclesfield Town
Fortunately the second half was a little more settled at the start with both sides searching out opportunities in the early stages. The visitors did put the ball in the back of the net from a corner kick but referee Simon Hooper had already blown his whistle for a foul on Adam Legzdins as he came to punch the ball clear.
Shaun Brisley became the second Macclesfield man to go into the book this time for needlessly barging Zola in the back as he challenged for the ball.
Zola was proving a handful for Macclesfield and after picking himself up he made a neat backheel to allow Webster to cross for Winnall to guide a header wide of the far post.
Macclesfield contiinued to look dangerous and a sloppy ball from Greg Pearson allowed Sinclair to scamper away down the left before crossing towards Barnett with Ryan Austin completing a vital clearance inside his own six yard box. Winger Colin Daniel also smashed a shot just wide as the visitors sensed a chance to go back in front.
The Brewers were the first side to make a change on 65 minutes with young winger Garyn Preen brought on for his Football League debut in place of Pearson.
Veiga was fortunate to get away with a fumble of the ball as Dyer's cross spilled out of his hands but the ball was just out of the reach of Winnall looking to capitalise on any mistake.
The youngster almost instantly had a chance to make himself a hero in the 71st minute when the ball squirted across the edge of the penalty area but his first touch was poor and the chance to turn and shoot was lost.
Zola almost worked a chance for a second goal with a neat turn down the left side of the penalty area but a good challenge denied the Congolese man a second goal. With eleven minutes remaining he was replaced by Richard Walker as the Brewers went in search of that elusive winner.
Alll of Albion's hard work was undone though in the 81st minute. Barnett made another surging run down the left and when his cross came into the middle Albion's defence was AWOL as SINCLAIR had all the time in the world to pick his spot with a header in off the inside of the post.
Albion were quick in their response and it was much needed. Jack Dyer swung in a free kick from the right and there was Adam BOLDER to rise highest and thump home a header to notch his first goal for the club.
There was more drama to come in the 89th minute as Bolder found Maghoma with a pass and the midfielder was upended by Izak Reid and Sam WINNALL stepped up to smash home the spot kick with barely a minute of normal time to go.
ALBION: Legzdins; Corbett, Austin, James, Webster; Maghoma, Dyer, Bolder; Pearson, Zola, Winnall. Substitutes: Poole, Stanton, Walker, Phillips, Preen, Munn, Green.
SILKMEN: Veiga, Reid, Bencherif, Brown, Sinclair, Daniel, Diagne, Brisley, Wedgbury, Gray, Barnett. Substitutes: Tremarco, Chalmers, Draper, Sappleton, Cudworth, Hamshaw, Mukendi.
Referee: Mr. S.Hooper (Wiltshire)
GOALS: Albion - Zola (43), Bolder (85), Winnall (89 pen); Macclesfield - Sinclair (1, 81)