Burton Albion's chances of grabbing automatic promotion were dealt a blow as they lost at fellow promotion chasers Scunthorpe United to Paddy Madden's fine volleyed effort. The Brewers were undoubtedly the better side in the first half but a resilient Iron defence stood firm creating a platform for the home side to go on and grab all three points on the hour mark. Madden's strike came after Lee Bell's clearance from a free kick came to him quickly and he adjusted himself superbly to fire hime from the edge of the box. Scunthorpe squandered an opportunity to double their lead when Gary McSheffrey won and then missed a penalty, Rob Lainton making a fine save to deny him but Albion were unable to conjure up a much needed equaliser. The result leaves Albion six points behind third placed Chesterfield and with the Spireites still to visit the Pirelli Stadium.
The hamstring injury that forced on loan winger Zeli Ismail out of the game against AFC Wimbledon last weekend forced manager Gary Rowett into one change at least for the visit to fellow promotion chasers Scunthorpe United. Alex MacDonald, who impressed in his appearance as a substitute for Ismail kept his place in the side but a change of formation led to one other change. In order to accommodate Matty Palmer in a midfield three, Dominic Knowles was unfortunate to find himself on the subs bench as Billy Kee started as the lone striker flanked by MacDonald and Jimmy Phillips on the left. Ian Sharps was still sidelined with a calf injury sustained at Oxford a fortnight ago but there were places on the bench for new loan signing Callum McFadzean and academy winger Marcus Harness.
Robbie weir's early left foot shot was a sign that Albion were intent on going for the three points and a storming run from Damien McCrory, intercepting a stray pass and playing a one two with Kee, had Albion attacking at pace with a strong wind at their backs.
It was a promising start from Albion and some good passing on the edge of the box involving Palmer and Weir allowed MacDonald to return the ball to Weir but his low cross was easily cut out by keeper Sam Slocombe as Billy Kee looked to make something of the situation.
Scunthorpe's first real moment of danger came on 12 minutes when a long free kick came into the Burton box and when Shane Cansdell-Sherriff tried to allow the ball to bounce through to Rob Lainton, Sam Winnall was close to getting on the end of it forcing Lainton to punch his clearance instead of being able to take a comfortable catch.
McCrory was almost on the scoresheet on 21 minutes looping a header towards the back post from Alex Macdonald's corner with Winnall having to desperately complete the clearance as Albion continued to press and the danger was only over for the home side when a third corner was flicked on by Marcus Holness beyond the far post with nobody in yellow attacking the ball as it flew across goal.
MacDonald created a chance for himself just before the half hour mark doing well to cut inside Marcus Williams but his left foot shot failed to trouble Slocombe in the Scunthorpe goal.
The former Burnley man was seeing a lot of the ball in the first half and another teasing cross was headed clear by Niall Canavan as Kee tried to get on the end of it and Albion continued to press for the opening goal.
Winnall almost turned provider on 38 minutes as Scunthorpe threatened down the right. The striker drifted out to the right to pick up the balll and whipped in a ball to the near post that Lainton got to just before Dave Syers could get a toe end on it.
Kee attemmpted one of his trademark turns with five minutes of the half remaining but his curling shot flew a good yard over the bar. Alex MacDonald also tried his luck, this time from distance as Albion again broke up a Scunthorpe move due to some excellent harrying and pressing but his shot bobbled out of play.
Matty Palmer was shown the first yellow card of the game on 43 minutes when he brought Syers down as the Iron looked to build a promising move but to the frustration of the home fans the free kick was easily cleared by a Burton boot as soon as it came into the box.
The half ended with Albion on the attack and all that was missing was a goal from a fine first half performance.
Half time: Scunthorpe United 0-0 Burton Albion
The Brewers carried on at the start of the second half where they left off at the end of the first - on the attack and a scramble in the Scunthorpe boxed caused by MacDonald's long throw had Weir and Lee Bell sniffing for the first goal with only a deflection inside the six yard box carrying the ball wide of the post. However almost out of nothing Scunthorpe almost conjured a bizarre equaliser. Bell was penalised for a challenge just inside the Burton half and Gary McSheffrey swung in a decent wind assisted free kick that almmost certainly started out as a cross but ended up dipping just inches over Lainton's crossbar.
Scunthorpe were the first side to make a change and it was a double one at that with Terry Hawkridge and the League's leading scorer Winnall withdrawn enabling Hakeeb Adelakun and Paul Hayes to come on and lend something different to the home attack.
Bell followed Palmer into referee Eltringham's book for a niggly foul on Sean McAllister and from the free kick the home side went in front on 59 minutes. The long free kick was launched into the box and although Holness got his head to it, Bell's attempt to clear came straight out to Paddy MADDEN on the edge of the box and his volley flew straight into Lainton's top right corner.
The goal brought the Glanford Park crowd to life and a flurry of corners almost yielded a second goal for the Iron with a couple of good punched clearances required under immense pressure.
Rowett waited until the 67th minute to make a double change with Bell sacrificed from midfield to enable Dominic Knowles to join the attack and young academy product Marcus Harness was brought on for MacDonald.
Albion continued to look dangerous and Phillips curled a low effort wide as Palmer and Kee engineered a breakaway on 70 minutes with Albion now searching for an equaliser.
It should have been 2-0 to the hosts on 75 minutes when they were awarded a spot kick. Phil Edwards challenge on Gary McSheffrey was adjudged by referee Eltringham to be both in the box and a foul and the former Coventry and Birmingham man picked himself up to take the kick himself but his low effort to Lainton's right was well saved by the on loan keeper.
The Brewers were dealt an injury blow on 79 minutes as Holness went down and was unable to continue. Rowett shuffled his pack to put David Gray on at right back with Edwards switching to the centre to partner Cansdell-Sherriff.
Adelekun almost added a second on 85 minutes as Madden chased down a long ball and played the ball into the path of the substitute but his first time effort curled wide of the upright.
Albion could not quite find an equaliser late on and Scunthorpe's long unbeaten run under Russ Wilcox remained in tact.