A brace of goals by Billy Kee against his former club ensures that Burton Albion returned to winning ways courtesy of a tight and tense 2-1 victory over Accrington Stanley. The Brewers leading scorer poked home his eleventh goal of the season on 34 minutes to give his side the lead but Albion were pegged back in the second half as Dean Winnard flicked home a free kick to level matters. Referee Andy Haines then pointed to the spot with ten minutes to go after punishing Tom Aldred for wrestling substitute Adam McGurk to the ground and Kee calmly slotted home the spot kick.
Unsurprisingly Gary Rowett reverted to 4-4-2 for a home game and the visit of relegation threatened Stanley. Jimmy Phillips returned on the left side of midfield as David Gray dropped to the bench and there was a double change up front with Tuesday evenings substitutes, Kee and Dominic Knowles given the chance to start in attack as McGurk and Gary Alexander dropped out of the starting eleven.
Robbie Weir had an early chance to get the Brewers off to an excellent start as an errant header out of defence from Stanley made the ball sit up beautifully for the Albion midfield to run on and smash a volley wide of the target from 25 yards.
Albion did not have long to wait for another chance either. The game was still in the fifth minute when a free kick was played short to Damien McCrory and Burton's goalscorer at Torquay swung in a superb cross that Kee headed goalwards only for Marcus Bettinelli to get a touch to tip it over the crossbar. The pressure was kept on as a corner came in and whilst Kayode Odejayi seemed determined to wrestle Ian Sharps to the ground, Weir crept in and thundered in a header that was scrambled off the line with some feeling that the ball was over the line before it was hacked away. The pressure at this stage was incessant and from a corner from the opposite side Jimmy Phillips' low shot was kept out by the trailing foot of the loanee keeper as he dived the wrong way.
Accrington managed to see off Albion's early threat and a low cross in by Kal Naismith was almost turned home by Piero Mingoia from inside the six yard box as Albion were reminded that Stanley were tricky opposition on their travels.
Ian Sharps collected a yellow card on 21 minutes as a stray ball from Weir almost allowed Lee Molyneux in, the skipper stepping across and halting his progress in the centre of midfield. Opposing skipper Luke Joyce quickly followed as he was somewhat late with his tackle on Jimmy Phillips as the winger cleared the ball from inside his own half.
Just when it looked like Albion were going to be frustrated they broke the deadlock on 34 minutes. Phillips found space on the left and sent in a low cross. Dominic Knowles helped the ball on into the path of KEE and his scuffed shot took a deflection that made sure Bettinelli had no chance of saving it.
It could have been two for Albion on the stroke of half time as Ismail used his pace to get clear but his shot was somehow fumbled clear by Bettinelli who kept his side in it as the Brewers looked for breathing space.
Half time: Burton Albion 1-0 Accrington Stanley
Kee had an early chance in the second half as Weir won a bone crunching challenge with Michael Liddle which allowed Knowles to run on before laying the ball off to his strike partner to strike low allowing Bettinelli to drop to his left and save comfortably. Weir carried on after treatment despite Lee Bell readying himself on the touchline to replace him.
Kee was penalised for a foul on Aldred as the two wrestled for possession just inside the Accrington half and the visitors quickly had a chance to equalise as Shane Cansdell-Sherriff was adjudged to have fouled Kal Naismith in a good position but Lee Molyneux was unable to execute the free kick accurately enough failing to trouble Rob Lainton in the Burton goal.
Turning defence into attack Albion quickly went up the other end and Ismail struck a low shot on the turn that went wide of the post with referee Andy Haines bizarrely giving the Brewers a corner.
On the hour mark Jimmy Phillips took his leave as he was substituted and replaced by Alex MacDonald prompting a switch of wings for Zeli Ismail to accommodate the former Burnley man.
Accrington stepped up their game and Mingoia capitalised on a loose ball to drive a deflected shot wide of the post on 67 minutes. Another set piece gave the visitors a chance to equalise a minute later and this time they took it. Ismail was penalised for a foul on Mingoia as both players battled for the ball on the angle of the box and when Molyneux swung in a teasing cross, Lainton came for it but was beaten by the merest of touches from Dean WINNARD who ran off to celebrate.
MacDonald fired a free kick on goal on 72 minutes forcing Bettinelli to save again as Albion hit back, Nicky Hunt picking up a yellow card for the original foul on Billy Kee.
McGurk was thrown on for the final eighteen minutes but it was Accrington who came closest next to grabbing a winner. Mingoia unable to steer home a low cross from Molyneux as the visitors threatened to hit Albion on the counter.
The referee who had failed to punish any form of shirt pulling all afternoon despite numerous episodes of Burton players being thrown to the ground finally decided to penalise Aldred for a tussle with Adam McGurk and pointed to the spot as an Albion corner came in. After a delay as Accrington protested, KEE stepped up and coolly sent Bettinelli the wrong way to restore Albion's lead from the penalty spot.
It really should have been 3-1 for Albion as the clock ticked towards the final minute, Kee laying the ball into the path of MacDonald who drilled a low effort inches wide of the post.
At this stage of the season it doesnt really matter how the wins come but this was another important three points in Albion's promotion campaign.