An interesting afternoon at the Pirelli as Burton Albion returned to winning ways in Skybet League 2 but yet again they finished the game with only ten men. Robbie Weir's thunderous 58th minute strike was enough to settle matters in terms of the goalscoring but Jimmy Phillips saw red as stoppage time started for a second bookable tackle with his dismissal sandwiching straight red cards for Rovers Chris Beardsley and John-Joe O'Toole. Beardsley was sent off for a first half challenge on Weir whilst O'Toole followed Phillips for an early bath after striking Phil Edwards in the face deep into second half stoppage time leaving Rovers to finish the game down to nine.
Weir's goal, his second of the season, was a rare moment of quality in the game. As Albion pressed the Rovers defence the ball broke to him 25 yards out and his technique was perfect to smash a rasping volley beyond the otherwise impeccable Steve Mildenhall in the Rovers goal.
Following the disappointing defeat away at Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend the Brewers line-up showed three changes for the visit of improving Bristol Rovers. With young goalkeeper Jordan Pickford recalled to sit on the bench for his parent club Sunderland there was another opportunity for Dean Lyness to stake his claim for a regular starting spot between the sticks. Following his hat-trick in the Birmingham Senior Cup on Tuesday Dominic Knowles was handed a full home debut as Albion reverted to a 4-4-2 formation. Jimmy Phillips also returned on the wing with Lee Bell and Alex MacDonald making way for the duo.
Burton flew out of the blocks and could have been ahead just as the clock was about to signify the end of the first minute. Adam McGurk did well to win possession down the left and his early cross evaded Knowles but fell nicely for Chris Hussey to hit a crisp, instant volley that visiting keeper Steve Mildenhall did very well to keep out.
Rovers soon regrouped and they wasted a gilt edged chance on nine minutes. A hopeful ball into the box tempted Dean Lyness to come and punch clear and although it looked like he was impeded by Eliot Richards the clearance fell nicely for Ollie Clarke who hit the ball back towards goal but lacking in any real conviction it was a straightforward clearance off the line from Ian Sharps on the cover.
Adam McGurk managed to get himself one on one with Tom Parkes on eleven minutes but cutting back inside the former Albion loanee his curling left foot shot went wide of the target.
Hussey again tested Mildenhall with a low driven effort after cutting in from the right, the ball almost taking a flick off Knowles which would have almost certainly beaten the keeper, ther the experienced stopper grateful to smother the ball.
Phil Edwards won a corner with an attempted cross that deflected out off Eliot Richards and the full back was nearly in the right place when Matty Palmer's corner was volleyed goalwards by Ian Sharps, Edwards just unable to divert the ball past Mildenhall.
Jimmy Phillips found himself in referee Paul Tierney's notebook on the half hour when he went in late on David Clarkson. The forward had nicked the ball off Phillips moments earlier as Albion tried to attack and the Brewers winger's frustration just got the better of him.
Things went awry for Bristol Rovers on 36 minutes as they were reduced to ten men. As the ball went loose on Albion's left Chris Beardsley flew into a challenge on Robbie Weir that left the Albion man struggling and referee Tierney had no hesitation in producing a red card for Beardsley.
Albion struggled to break down the Pirates defence in what was left of the first half, a period where Albion's striker had been starved of a quality service and the best chances falling to Hussey who had tested the visiting keeper on three occasions.
Half time: Burton Albion 0-0 Bristol Rovers
Burton came out brightly for the start of the second half, looking to make their man advantage count. Jimmy Phillips almost carved out a breakthrough when he stabbed Adam McGurk's cross towards goal with Mildenhall just doing enough to shovel the ball around the post.
Mildenhall had thus far enjoyed a good afternoon in the Bristol goal but when Albion eventually grabbed the lead on 58 minutes there was absolutely nothing the experienced stopper could do about it. Albion built up a head of steam and as both McGurk and Knowles were crowded out in the penalty area, Matty Palmer helped the ball into the path of Robbie WEIR and he lashed home a stinging 25 yard drive.
Rovers quickly made an attacking substitution and it was Matt Harrold who was thrown on in place of David Clarkson to try and recover the situation for the visitors.
Dean Lyness gave Albion fans a heart stopping moment when he completely missed his kick with Harrold lurking but the young keeper recovered and the danger was eventually cleared.
Burton though continued to look the more likely side to score a good move involving Edwards and Hussey ended with a cross from the right that McGurk could only head straight at the keeper.
A clash of heads between Jimmy Phillips and John-Joe O'Toole left both players requiring attention but both were able to continue after treatment from the bench.
Albion made their first change with a quarter of an hour to go and it almost had an instant impact. Billy Kee was brought on in place of Knowles and with his first touch he turned on the edge of the box before firing a shot straight at the Rovers keeper.
As the game ebbed beyond the 80 minute mark Albion made a second change with Chris Hussey replaced by Lee Bell to bolster the centre of midfield for the remainder of the game.
Rene Howe was also given a late opportunity to have an impact as he replaced McGurk just as Rovers were trying to throw everything they had left at the Brewers backline.
Albion's two attacking substitutes should have sealed victory with a second goal asa stoppage loomed. Howe scampered to chase down a long clearance and found Kee in acres of space in the centre but he delayed his shot a fraction too long and Mildenhall was able to smother his low shot.
If it looked as it the game was going to peter out into a tame finish then it was anything but. Jimmy Phillips dived in to try and win the ball on the halfway line as stoppage time started and referee Tierney produced a second yellow to make Phillips the fifth Burton player red carded this campaign. The late drama did not end there as Edwards and O'Toole engaged in a minor tussle as Rovers prepared to take a free kick and as Edwards received a yellow card for his part, O'Toole raised his hands and pushed Edwards in the face, spotted by the assistant and reported to the referee who produced a third red card of the game.
Despite being down to nine men Rovers still had one last chance to snatch a point but Richards flick header from an angled cross dropped agonisingly wide of the far post with Lyness scrambling.
It perhaps summed up Rovers afternoon but for Albion it was another hard fought win that pushes them back into the play-off places with another home game to come on Tuesday giving the Brewers chance to enhance their promotion aspirations.