Billy Kee's tenth minute strike was enough to ensure Burton Albion recorded their first home league victory over Accrington Stanley since joining the Football League in 2009. It was a sweet moment for the former Accy striker as he swept home a low shot after great work from Jacques Maghoma and a neat interchange of passes with Calvin Zola.
After returning to the side against Crewe last weekend Marcus Holness kept his place in the centre of defence despite the return of Nathan Stanton after illness. With Jordan Chapell having been recalled to parent club Sheffield United there was also a recall for Billy Kee as the Brewers returned to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation.
Accrington named former Albion man Rommy Boco in their line-up as well as former England striker James Beattie now on the coaching staff at the Crown Ground. There was however a change when the teams appeared for the start with Padraig Amond starting the game instead of Beattie who picked up an injury in the pre-match warm up.
Lee Molyneux tested the Albion first with an early raid down the left and his deflected cross was touched just wide of the post by Piero Mingoia. There was another scare when Zander Diamond left his backpass short for Dean Lyness and Mingoia capitalised, squaring the ball into the middle where Marcus Holness was able to tidy up.
Albion broke free of their defensive shackles on ten minutes and from their first meaningful attack took the lead. It owed much to the persistence and tricky of Jacques Maghoma down the left who recovered the ball as it appeared to be going out after he had knocked it past his man. His hopeful ball into the middle found Billy KEE and after exchanging passes with Calvin Zola the former Stanley striker slotted the ball low beyond Paul Rachubka in the Accrington goal.
Chris Palmer went agonisingly close to doubling the advantage moments later when his deep cross from the right hand side clipped the face of the crossbar before bouncing away to safety.
Palmer's delivery almost created a second in the 25th minute as a set piece almost paid dividends for Albion. A left footed delivery was flicked on at the edge of the area by Kee and Zander Diamond could only watch as his shot was straight at Rachubka who gratefully held on. Kee then almost grabbed a second for himself as another probing run from Maghoma created a chance in the right channel that Albion's goalscorer steered across the keeper but wide of the far post.
Yet another chance went begging for Albion as another Palmer free kick found the head of Diamond in the box and his header thumped wide of the post, not missing the target by much at all.
Accrington continued to enjoy the lion's share of possession but struggled to seriously test Dean Lyness in the Burton goal. There was a moment of danger when a deep curling cross from the right went into Albion's six yard and Nsiala challenged the Albion stopper and Diamond had to scoop the loose ball away from danger.
If anything it was Albion who were probably gladder to hear the half time whistle as Accrington pressed before the break for an equaliser with the home defence standing firm until the break.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Robbie Weir, celebrating his 24th birthday, got a card that he would not have wanted when he saw yellow from referee Phil Gibbs for a foul on Luke Joyce.
Lyness had to keep his wits about him moments later as a booming clearance from Rachubka bounced awkwardly for the young keeper and he had to tip the ball over his crossbar as he backpedalled towards his own line.
Skipper Luke Joyce pulled a right foot shot well wide of the target from the edge of the box but when he had chance to try a similar effort on his left foot in the 58th minute he forced Lyness into an excellent save low to his left.
Albion made their first change on 62 minutes with a straight swap as Cleveland Taylor replaced Chris Palmer on the right hand side of midfield.
Rachubka had to make an excellent punched clearance from under his own crossbar as Anthony O'Connor's cross sought out Zola and Taylor blazed a loose ball over the bar after good work from Billy Kee inside the area.
It was much better from Albion and Taylor did well with a bouncing ball to create a chance for Zola who tried to hook the ball goalwards only for Rachubka to do just enough to divert the ball wide of the post.
the game was becoming stretched and as Albion broke forward again in the 74th minute Maghoma fed Kee who saw his deflected shot loop just wide of the post. The young striker saw another effort deflect wide off Nsiala as Burton again rediscovered their attacking threat.
Zola managed to get his head to a Taylor cross with ten minutes to play as the swirling wind made conditions awkward.
Accrington pressed for an equaliser but couldnt find a way through. Rommy Boco tricked his way across the edge of the penalty area in one move but his shot cleared the bar by some distance.
Goalscorer Kee was replaced in the final moments by John McGrath. He helped create a late chance for Robbie Weir who was fouled as he shot wide and Jacques Maghoma fired the free kick wide of the goal.
In the end Burton were able to hold on for a second clean sheet in a week and move themselves back to within a point of the play-offs.
BURTON: Lyness; O'Connor, Diamond, Holness, McCrory; Palmer, Bell, Weir, Maghoma; Zola, Kee. Substitutes: Atkins, Webster, Stanton, McGrath, Taylor, Richards, Dyer.
ACCRINGTON: Rachubka, Murphy, Liddle, Joyce, Nsiala, Lindfield, Miller, Beattie, Molyneux, Mingoia, Boco. Substitutes: Barnett, Hatfield, Clark, Gray, Eckersley, Dawber, Amond.
Referee: Mr. P.Gibbs (West Midlands)
GOALS: Albion - Kee (10)